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Specially draw for " The Treasury of David " by E. H. Fitchew. 









VOL. I. 







MY Preface shall at least possess the virtue of brevity, as I find it difficult 
to impart to it any other. 

The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and 
ever-growing pleasure ; common gratitude constrains me to communicate 
to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to 
search further for themselves. That I have nothing better of my own to offer 
upon this peerless book is to me matter of deepest regret ; that I have anything 
whatever to present is subject for devout gratitude to the Lord of grace. 
I have done my best, but, conscious of many defects, I heartily wish I could 
have done far better. 

The Exposition here given is my own. I consulted a few authors before 
penning it, to aid me in interpretation and arouse my thoughts ; but, still I 
can claim originality for my comments, at least so I honestly think. Whether 
they are better or worse for that, I know not ; at least I know I have sought 
heavenly guidance while writing them, and therefore I look for a blessing on 
the printing of them. 

The collection of quotations was an after-thought. In fact, matter grew 
upon me which I thought too good to throw away. It seemed to me that it 
might prove serviceable to others, if I reserved portions of my reading upon 
the various Psalms ; those reserves soon acquired considerable bulk, so much 
so that even in this volume only specimens are given and not the bulk. 

One thing the reader will please clearly to understand, and I beg him to 
bear it in mind : I am far from endorsing all I have quoted. I am neither 
responsible for the scholarship or orthodoxy of the writers. The names are 
given that each author may bear his own burden ; and a variety of writers 
have been quoted that the thoughts of many minds might be before the 
reader. Still I trust nothing evil has been admitted ; if it be so it is an 

The research expended on this volume would have occupied far too much 
of my time, had not my friend and amanuensis, Mr. John L. Keys, most 
diligently aided me in investigations at the British Museum, Dr. Williams s 
Library, and other treasuries of theological lore. With his help I have 
ransacked books by the hundred, often without finding a memorable line as a 
reward, but at other times with the most satisfactory result. Readers little 
know how great labour the finding of but one pertinent extract may involve ; 
labour certainly I have not spared : my earnest prayer is that some measure 


of good may come of it to my brethren in the ministry and to the church at 

The Hints to Preachers are very simple, and an apology is due to my 
ministerial readers for inserting them, but I humbly hope they may render 
assistance to those for whom alone they are designed, viz., lay preachers 
whose time is much occupied, and whose attainments are slender. 

Should this first volume meet with the approbation of the judicious, I 
shall hope by God s grace to continue the work as rapidly as I can consistently 
with the research demanded and my incessant pastoral duties. Another 
volume will follow in all probability in twelve months time, if life be spared 
and strength be given. 

It may be added, that although the comments were the work of my health, 
the rest of the volume is the product of my sickness. When protracted illness 
and weakness laid me aside from daily preaching, I resorted to my pen as an 
available means of doing good. I would have preached had I been able, but 
as my Master denied me the privilege of thus serving him, I gladly availed 
myself of the other method of bearing testimony for his name. O that he 
may give me fruit in this field also, and his shall be all the praise. 




Abbot, George (1651), 386 

Abbot, Robert (1646), 288 

Abenezra, 45, 266, 357 

Adam, Thomas (1701 1784), 5, 15, 20, 63, 

76, 121, 122, 123, 146, 157, 168, 170, 

191, 265, 289, 344, 346, 421 
Adams, Thomas (1614), 52 
Addison, Joseph (1671 1719), 169, 236 
Ainsworth, Henry ( 1622), I, 8, 15, 25, 49, 

74, 102, 106, 141, 160, 192, 256, 257, 284, 

358- 363, 389 

Airay, Henry (1560 1616), 320 
Albertus, Magnus, 321 
Alexander, Joseph Addison (1856.), 13, 28, 

161. 192, 321 

Alexander, William Lindsay (1862), 265 
Alleine, Richard (1611 1681), 137, 172 
Ambiose (340 397), 32, 61 
Ambrose, Isaac (1592 1674), 308, 320, 386 
Amyraldus (1596 1664), 132 
Anderson, John (1856), 264 
Andrewes, Launcelot (1555 1626), 318, 339, 

343, 363, 384 

Annesley, Samuel (1620 1696), 400 
Anselm, John (1034 1109), 157 
Aristotle (B.C. 384), 170, 276 
Arnot, William (1858), 310 
Arvine, K. (1859), 403, 425 
Ashwood, Bartholomew (1688), 6 
Askew, Anne (1546), 120, 132 
Augustine (353429), 4, 6, 25, 3, 61, 72, 77, 

93, 102, 108, 115, 157, 160, 168, 170, 180, 

198, 223, 277, 286, 318, 319, 322, 357, 

372, 409, 423 

Austin, William (1637), 207-209 
Ayguan, Michael (1416), 104, 146 

Bacon, Francis (1560 1626), 253 

Baker, Sir Richard (1568 1645), 4, 5, 6, 7, 

8, 362, 364 
Bakius, 335 

Baldwin, William Charles (1863), 226 
Bale, John (1495 1563), 120 
Bales, Peter (1547 1610), 221 
Ball, John (1585 1640), 103, 157, 205 
Barclay, John (1734 1798), 179, 
Bargrave, Isaac (1623), 423, 425 
Barnes, Albert (1798 1870), 26, 29, 40, 73, 

231, 420 

Baro, Peter (1560), 183, 185 
Earth, T. C. (1865), 290, 371 
Basil (326379), 181. 258 
Bate, John (1865), 279 
Bates, William (1625 1699), 18, 268 
Baxter, Richard (1615 1691), 60, 105 
Bede /672 735), 221 

Beecher, Henry Ward (1862), 232, 357 

Bellarmine, Robert (1542 1621), 337 , 38? 

Bennet, Benjamin (1728), 182 

Bernard (1091 1157), 383, 408 

Berridge, John (1716 1793). 44 

Beza, Theodore de (1519 1605), 83, 224 

Bible, Critical and Explanatory Pocket 

[Psalms edited by B. M. Smith.] (1867), 

3ibie, Kitto s Pictorial (1855), 77, 249, 264, 

Bible, Religious Tract Society s Commentary 

upon the, 226 
Bion (B.C. 280), 146 
Blair, Hugh (1718 1800), 9 
Bochart, Samuel (1599 1667), 265 
Bogan, Zachary (1625 1659), 321, 361 
Bonar, Andrew A. (1859), 38, 54, 71, 74, 126, 

132, 198, 291, 303, 384, 398, 413 
Bouaventure (1221 1274), 210, 347 
Book of Symbols, The (1844), 146 
Boothroyd, Benjamin ( 1836), 102 
Boston, Thomas (1676 1732), 74, 179, 181, 

182, 426 
Bouchier, Barton (1855), 106, 146, 174, 204, 

305, 413, 420 
Bowes, G. S. (1860), 287 
Bownd, Nicholas (1604), 304, 306 
Boys, John (1571 1625), 179, 180, 181, 210, 

276, 280, 283, 286, 380, 381, 385, 389 
Bradbury, Charles (1785), 186, 201, 254, 258, 

31, 323, 347 

Bradford, John (1510 1555), 288 
Bridge, William (1600 1670), 318 
Bridges, Charles (1850), 144 
Brooks, Thomas (1608 1680), 39, 41, 51, 

72, 104, 122, 138, 147, 148, 168, 204, 212, 

Brown, John (1853), 249, 252, 253, 255, 259, 

263, 264, 265, 266 
Bruce, James (1730 1794), 252 
Bunyan, John (1628 1688), 159 
Burder Samuel (1812), 286, 308, 371 
Burgess, Anthony (1656), 279, 292, 294, 420 
Burnet, Gilbert (1643 1714-5), 50 
Burroughs, Jeremiah (1599 1646), 72, 76, 

222, 224, 225, 228, 231, 
Bush, George (1796), 188 
Butler, Samuel (1600 1680), 427 
Byfield, Nicholas (1579 1622), 206 

Calmet, Augustine (1672 1757), 324 
Calvin, John (1509 1564), 60, 73, 88, 108, 

188, 264, 380, 384, 402, 404, 409, 411, 424 
Capel, Richard (15861656), 108, 20.1 

293, 337 


Carlyle, Thomas, 87 

Cartwright, Christopher (1602 1658), 184, 
1 86 

Caryl, Joseph (1602 1673), 6, 14, 20, 40, 
50, 52, 64, 72, 89, 90, 93, 105, 106, 120, 123, 
125, 136, 138, 205, 207, 223, 226, 227, 230, 
251, 258, 263, 280, 283, 297, 321, 350, 

367, 399, 419 

Cassiodorus (470 560), 132, 139, 335 
Castalio, Sebastian (1515 1563), 286 
Cowdray, Robert (1609), 168, 183, 204, 224, 

251, 252, 262, 280, 420, 422 
Chalmers, Thomas (1780 1847), 82, 87 
Chandler, Samuel (1693 1766), 255 256, 

257. 258 
Charnock, Stephen (1628 1680), 16, \i, 29, 

87, 108, 115, 118, 119, 125, 137, 139, K-6, 

200, 209, 221, 223, 404 
Chevallier, Temple (1827), 278 
Chillingworth, William (1602 1643), 167 
Chrysostom (347 407), 104, 147, 276 
Cicero, 279 
Clarke, Adam (1760 1832), 4, 7, 41, 84, 

199, 45 

Clarke, Samuel (1599 1682), 159 
Clarkson, David (1621 1686), 52, 146, 166, 

202, 306 

Clerke, Richard (1634), 171 
Cobbet, Thomas (1608 1686), 408 
Cobbin, Ingram (1846), 381, 419 
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772 1834), 169 
Coles, Elisha (1688), 402 
Colvill, William (1655), 212, 213, 231 
Corbet, Richard (1632), 206 
Cox, F. A. (1852), 381 
Cotta, Giovanni, 169 
Coverdale, Miles (1487 1568), 74 
Cowper, William (1566 1619), 28, 53, 101 
Cowper, William (1731 1800), 131, 265 
Cragge, John (1657), 212, 281, 322 
Craik, Henry (1680), 279 
Cromwell, Oliver (1599 1658), 267 
Cruden, Alexander (1701 1770), 187, 296 
Cruso, Timothy (1657 1697), 153, 203, 206, 

254, 420 
Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature (Kitto s) 

27, 265 

Cyclopaedia of Illustrations (1865), 279 
Cyprian, 170, 222 

Dale, Thomas (1847), 364 

Daly, Robert (1861), 361 

Davies, Benjamin (1866), 27 

Day, Martin (1660), 367 

Delany, Patrick (1686 1768), 380 

Delitzsch, Franz (1868), 335 

De Wette, Wilhelm (1850), 27 

Dick, Thomas (1850), 81 

Dickson, David (1583 1662), 37, 39, 61, 

147, 234, 252, 307. 310, 322, 339, 41, 426 
Diodati, John (1576 1649), 116, 118, 119 

225, 264, 323, 382, 384 

Dionysius (1471), 264, 307, 308, 336, 340 
Dod, John (15471645), 173, 174 
Donne, John (1573 1631), 19, 61, 62, 64, 65 
Dove, Henry (1690), 260, 261 
Downame, George ( 1634), 1 80, 184, 190 
Du Bartas, Guillaume de Saluste (1544 

1590), 276 

Duncan, Mary B. (1866), 350 
Dunsterville, Edward (1642,1 144 

Dunwell, F. H. (1855), 61, 306 
Durant, John (1620), 358 
Durham, James (1622 1658), 319 
Dyer, William (1696), 16, 77 
Dyke, Jeremiah ( 1620), 252, 408 

Edwards, J. (1856), 226 

Edwards, Jonathan (1703 1758), 281, 407 

Eusebius, (267 338), 335 

Evans, Christmas (1766 1838), 334, 387 

Ewald, Henrich, 27, 71 

Fawcett, John (1823), 235 

Fenner, William (1600 1640), 372, 398, 399, 

401, 411 

Flavel, John (1627 1691), 43, 250, 254, 336 
Fletcher, Giles (1588 1623), 175 
Foxe, John (1517 1587), 81 
Frame, James (1858), 198 
Frank, Mark (1613 1664), 308, 382 
Franke, Augustus Hermann (1668 1727), 


Fra Thom6 de Jesu (See Thom) 
French, W., and Skinner G. (1842), 139 
Frost, John (1657), 229, 230 
Fry, John (1842), 4, 101, 149 
Fuller, Andrew (1754 1815), 155, 156, 348, 

Fuller, Thomas (1608 1661), 54, 76, 86, 

123, 132, 134, 136, 202, 398, 400, 402, 403 

Gadsby, John (1862), 121, 281, 365, 367, 384 
Gataker, Thomas (1574 1654), 154 
Geddes, Alexander (1737 1802), 223, 265 
Gerhohus (1093 1169), 307, 339, 344, 409 
Gesenius, Friedrich H. W. (1786 1842), 27 
Gilfillan, George (1852), 250 
Gill, John (1697 1771), 65, 73, 185, 207, 

225, 304, 307, 319, 339, 412 
Gilpin, Richard (1677), 59, 119, 120 
Godwyn, Thomas (1587 1643), 425 
Good, John Mason (1764 1827), 25, 149, 


Goodhart, C. J. (1848), 349 

Goodwin, Thomas (1600 1679), 39, 53, 83, 
84, 85, 126, 148, 173, 201, 203, 211, 233, 
258, 261, 262, 287, 296, 404, 405, 410 

Gotthold (See Scriver). 

Gouge, Thomas (1605 1681), 72, 222 

Gouge, William (15751653), 225, 251, 335. 
341, 347 

Gower, J. A. (1831). (See " Plain explana 
tion " etc.) [Anon]. 

Gray, Andrew (1616), 127 

Greenham, Richard (1531 1591). 198, 199, 
200, 201, 205 

Greenhill, William (1591 1677), 51, 52, 104, 
106, 118, 171, 403 

Griffith, Matthew (1634), 253 

Grosse, Alexander (1632), 40 

Gurnall, William (1617 1679), 17, 26, 27, 
51. 52, 53, 55, 75- 94, 108, 124, 137, 138, 
155, 201, 204, 206, 224, 226, 234, 338, 348, 
370, 383, 410, 427 

Guthrie, Thomas, 85 

Haak, Theodore (1618 1657), 132 
Hacket, H. B. (1852), 207 
Haldane, Robert (17641842), 53 
Hall, Joseph (15741656), 88, 148, 155, 387 
Halle, Dr., 286 

Hammond, Henry (1605 1660), 62, 102, 
257, 264, 424 


Hapstone, Dalman (1867), 321 

Hardy, Nathanael (1618 1670), 286, 292, 

363, 37L 46 

Hare. Charles Julius (1841), 284 
Hawker, Robert (1753 1827), 108, 148 
Hengstenberg, E. W. (1845), 75, 101, 189, 

335, 420 
Henry, Matthew (1662 1714), 4, 15, 26, 157. 

225, 308, 322, 401, 411 
Heraud, J. A., 107 
Herbert, George (1593 1632), 91 
Herder. J. G. Von (1744 1803), 27 
Hervey, James (1713 1758). 278, 365, 383 
Hervey, Mrs., 370 
Heywood, Oliver (1629 1702), 267 
Hilary, 19 

Hitchcock, Edward (1867), 278 
Homer, 265 

Homilies, The Book of, (1547), 365 
Hood, Thomas (1789 1845), 291 
Hooker, Richard (1554 1600), 116 
Hooper, John (1495 1555). 3&9 
Hopkins, Ezekiel (1633 1690), 138, 139, 229, 

Home, George (1730 1792), 43, 65. 94, 107, 

146, 157, 318, 323, 342, 344, 411 
Horsley, Samuel (1733 1806), 71, 132 
Horton, Thomas ( 1673), 39, 341 
Howard, Theodosia A. Viscountess Powers- 
court (1861), 361, 367 
Howe, John (1630 1705), 107, 147, 167, 

225, 226, 230, 231, 234 
Hughes, George (1642), 206, 207 
Hull, John (1615), 358 
Humboldt, F. H. Alexander Von (1769 

1859), 86 

Hurrion, John (1675 1731), 309, 320 
Hutcheson, George (1657), 154, 345 

Illustrated Commentary, 340 

Irons, Joseph (1786 1852), 144, 305 

Irving, Edward (1792 1834), 116, 117 

Tackson, Arthur (1593 1666), 15, 400 

Jacomb, Thomas (1622 1687), 305 

Jamieson, John (1789), 166 

Jamieson, Robert (1843), 384 

Janeway, James (1636 1674), 88, 89, 203, 

257. 366, 370, 386 
Jarchi (1040 ), 251 
Jermin, Michael ( 1659), 409 

Jewell, John (1522 1571), 72 
osephus, Flavius (37 93), 255 
uvenal, 171 

Kay, W. (1871), 251 
Keble, John (17921866), 144, 388 
Kempis, Thomas a (1380 1471), 6 
Kennicott, Benjamin (1718 1783), 294 
Kimchi, David \ 1240), 300, 364 
King, John (1559), 29, 127, 128, 135, 227 
Kitto, John (1804 1854), 76 264, 266, 379 
(See also Cyclopaedia). 

Lake, Arthur ( 1626), 298 
Lange, J. P. (1864), 345 
Latimer, Hugh (1480 1555), 127, 190, 427 
Lavington, Samuel (1726 1807), 199, 366 
Layard, Austin H. (1853), 364 
Leighton, Robert (1611 1684), 37, 49, 86, 
127, 254 

Littleton, Adam (1627 1694), 190, 288, 294 
Lockyer, Nicholas (1612 1684-5), 259 
Lorinus, John (1569 1634), 266, 383 
Love, Christopher (1618 1651), 403 
Lowth, Robert (1710 1787), 253 
Ludolph (1350), 335. 3^9 
Luther, Martin (1483), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 15, 17, 

18, 30, 49. 53, 102, 115, 182, 221, 307, 335. 

336, 34L 345. 347. 351. 383 

Macduff, J. R. (1866), 358, 363 
Maclaren, Alexander (1863), 372 
Maimonides, Moses (1135 1200), 187 
Mant, Richard (1776 1849), 75, 230, 252, 

264, 310, 321, 322 
Manton, Thomas (1620 1677), 53, 73, 84, 

85, 149, 224, 284, 293 
Marbury, Edward (1649), 104, 125, 251, 264, 

307, 422 

Martin, Samuel (1860), 317, 319 
Mason, William (1719 1791). 297 
Massillon, Jean Baptiste (1663 1742), 371 
Mather, Samuel (1626 1671), 235 
Mayer, John (1653), 76, 84, 93, 102, 106, 349 
M Cartree, Mrs., 43 
M Cosh, James (1850), 270 
Melvill, Henry (1798 1871), 91-93, 310 
Merrick, James (1720 1769), 265 
Michaelis, John Henry (1668 1738), 249 
Milton, John (1608 1674), 107, 226, 256, 

279, 322 
Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat Baron de 

(16891755), 149 

Moore, Hannah (1745 1833), 253 
Morison, John (1829), 74, 120, 121, 122, 230, 

254, 256, 286, 304, 322, 337, 339, 343, 345, 

349. 41 
Mossom, Robert (1657), 399, 400, 401, 402, 

403, 404, 408, 409, 412, 413 
Moulin, Peter du (1600 1684), 153 
Mudge, Zachary (1744), 204 
Muffet, Peter (1594), 116 
Muis, Simon de (1587 1644), 404 
Musculus, Wolfgang (1497 1563), 174, 279 

Neale, John Mason (1860), 170, 342, 422 
Needham, John (1768), 40 
Ness, Christopher (1621 1705), 330 
Newton, John (1725 1807), 20, 340 
Nicholson, William ( 1671), 139 
Nouet, James (1847), 321, 386 
Noyes, George R. (1846), 202 

Origen, 172 

Owen, John (1616 1683), 164-166, 174, 371 

Page, Samuel (1646), 138 
Palmer, Anthony (1678), 408 
Parkhurst, John (1728 1797), 74, 203 
Pascal, Blaise (16231662), 89, 145 
Patrick, Symon (1626 1707), 104 
Paulinus, 180 

Paxton, George (1762 1837), 346 
Payson, Edward (1783 1827), 117-118 
Pendlebury, Henry (1626 1695), 3^6 
Perkins, William (1558 1602), 185, 372 
Perowne, J. J. Stewart (1864), 221, 317, 336, 

339, 381. 420 

Phillips, G. (1846), 398, 419 
Philpot, John ( 1555). 423 
Pitcairn, David (1851), 14, 15, 17 

Plain Explanation oi the difficult Passages in 

the Psalms (1831) [Anon], 371 
Plato, 217 
Playfere, Thomas (1604), 63, 181, 223, 224, 

267, 281, 338 
Plumer, William S. (1867), 16, 71, 103, 105. 

252, 256, 257, 264, 304, 309, 319, 358, 412, 


Plutarch, 276 
Pool, Matthew (1624 1679), 74, 183, 202, 

257. 265, 307, 310, 342, 364. 365, 371, 409, 

411, 413, 425 

Pope, Alexander (1688 1744), 265 
Porter, Ebenezer (1834), 383 
Porter, J. L. (1867), 360 
Posidonius, 186 

Power, Philip Bennet (1862), 28, 42, 102, 368 
Powerscourt, Viscountess (1861), 361, 367 
Practical Illustrations of the Book of Psalms 

[Anon] (1826), 347 
Prime, John (1588), 369 

Ouarles, Francis (1592 1644), 74, 105, 106, 
M5. 223 

Ranew, Nathaniel (1672), 6 

Rayment, J. (1630), 40 

Religious Tract Society s Commentary (sec 

Bible), 226 
Remigius (900), 266 
Reyner, Edward (1600 1670), 50 
Reynolds, Edward (1599 1676), 127 
Ribera, 83 

Richardson, John ( 1654), 19, 280 
Richardson, William (1825), 400 
Roberts, Joseph (1835), 225, 308, 340, 346, 

37 1 

Robinson, Ralph (1614 1655), 174, 363 
Rogers, Daniel (1573 1652), 85 
Rogers, Mrs. (1856), 362, 421 
Rogers, Timothy (1660 1729), 54, 63, 154, 

155, 156, 205, 337 
Rollock, Robert (1555 1598), 199 
Row, John (1677), 335, 337, 338 
Russel, Robert (1705), 296 
Rutherford, Samuel (1600 1661), 154, 321 
Ryland, H. R. (1853), 303, 317, 338, 380 

Sacy, Louis Isaac le Maistre de (1613 

1684), 266 

Selter, H. G. (1840), 296 
Sanderson, Robert (1587 1662-3), 296 
Sandys, George (i577 1 6 43). 256 
Saurin, James (1677 1730), 120 
Schimmelpennick, Mary Anne (1825), 380 
Scot, James (1774), 389, 426 
Scott, Thomas (1747), 342 
Scottish Version (1649), 256 
Scriver, Christian (1629 1693), 4 2 5 
Scudder, H. (1633) 41 
Seeker, William (1660), 41, 73, 76, 123, 181, 

200, 201, 361, 372, 408, 
Sedgwick, Obadiah (1600), 277, 289, 290, 

291, 294. 36o, 368, 37 1 
Selden, John (1584 1654), 185 
Shakespeare, William (1564 1616), 186 
Sheffield, John (1654), 147 
Sherlock, Thomas (1676 1761), 297 
Sibbs, Richard (1577 1635), 27, 76, 105, 

171, 384, 412 
Sidney, Edwin (1866), 284 

Simeon, Charles (1759 1836), 129, 268 

Skinner, G. (see French). 

Smith, B. M. (In the Critical and Explanatory 

Pocket Bible). 
Smith, Henry (1560 1591), 14, 41, 103, 117, 

124, 138, 189 

Smith, James (1802 1862), 33 
Smith, Miles (1624), 228, 263 
Smith, Samuel (1588 ), 358, 359 
Socrates, 225 

South, Robert (1633 1716), 106 
Spencer, John ( 1654), 51, 64, 94, 381 
Spring, Gardiner, 149 
Spurstowe, William ( 1666), 232, 233 
Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn (1864), 7, 255 
Steele, Richard ( 1692), 250 
Sternhold, Thomas ( 1549), 240 
Sterry, Peter (1649), 266 
Stevenson, John (1842), 338, 339, 340, 341, 

342, 343. 344. 345. 34^, 347. 348, 35. 35* , 

361, 362, 366 
Stock, Richard ( 1626), 60, 118, 200, 287, 

288, 407 

Stoughton, John ( 1639), 285 
Stoughton, John (1860), 357 
Stowell, Hugh, 366 
Streat, William (1654), 281, 335 
Street, Stephen (1790), 265 
Strong, William ( 1654), 258, 259, 260, 261, 


Struther, William (1633), 369, 412 
Stuckley, Lewis ( 1687), 64, 75, 117, 172, 

422, 423 
Sturm, Christopher Christian (1750 1786), 

Swinnock, George (1627 1673), 40, 50, 51, 

156. 383, 421, 422, 423 
Symonds, Joseph (1639), 200, 224, 338 
Symson, Archibald (1638), 59, 60, 61, 62, 


Taylor, Jeremy (1613 1667), 169, 184, 322 

Tertullian, 386 

Theodoret (393 457). 25 

Tholuck, Augustus F. (1856), 255, 256, 279, 

Thome de Jesu, Fra ( 1582), 340, 343 

Thomson, James (1700 1748), 157, 280 

Thomson, W. M. (1859), 121, 360, 362, 363, 

Thornton, J. (1826), 364 

Trapp, John (1611 1669), 4, 8, 14, 15, 53, 
54, 64, 65, 87, 103, 106, 120, 144, 149, 157, 
159, 166, 172, 174, 179, 186, 191, 204, 206, 
263, 266, 287, 304, 306, 307, 318, 320, 338, 
342, 343, 344, 357, 3^4. 372, 383, 384. 400, 
403, 404, 405, 409, 411, 413 

Tremellius, 50 

Turnbull, Richard (1606), 179, 184, 185, 186, 
189, 191 

Turner, Joseph M. W. (1775 1851), 281 

Turner, Samuel (1759 1802), 308 

Turner, William (1697), 77 

Tymme, Thomas (1634), 26, 103, 229, 370 

Valdis, Juan de ( 1540), 201 
Vance, W. Ford (1827), 43 
Vaughan, Henry (1621 1695), 50 
Venning, Ralph (1620 1673), 203, 228, 287 
Verschoyle, Hamilton (1843), 305, 310, 317 
Victorinus, Hugo (1130), 409 

Vieyra, Antonio de (1608 1697), 405 
Vincent, Nathaniel ( 1697), 2 93 
Virgil, 145 
Voltaire, F. M. A. B., 16 

Walford, William (1837), 285, 427 
Ward, Samuel (1577 1639), 158 
Wardlaw, Ralph (17791853), 319 
Washbourne, Thomas (1654), 90 
Watson, Thomas (1660), 4, 6, 19, 27, 28, 29, 

39, 41, 64, 72, 86, 103, 104, 123, 126, 127, 

171, 173, 211, 212, 224, 234, 260, 286, 339, 

411, 421 

Watts, Isaac (16741748), 194 
Wedderburn, Alexander (1701), 336 
Weemse, John ( 1636), 189 
Weiss, Benjamin (1856), 235, 382 
Westminster Assembly s Annotations (1651) 


Whitchurche, E. (1547), 341 
Whitfield, George (1714 1770), 419 
Wilcocks, Thomas (1586), 8, 64, 128, 308 

Wilcox, Daniel (1676), 227 
Willan, Edward (1645), 211 
Willett. Andrew (15621621), 17* 
Williams, Griffith (1636), 124, 145 
Williams, Isaac (1864), 84, 310, 317, 34^, 

383. 384 

Willison, John (1680 1750), 158 
Wilson, Thomas (1653), 54, 171 
Wilson, W. (1860), 83, 132, 149, 156, 265, 

280, 287, 307, 308, 420 
Wishart, George ( 1546), 81 
Wolcombe, R. (1612), 144-5 
Wood, J. G. (1869), 335. 346 
Wordsworth, Christopher (1868), 198, 251, 

380, 399, 419, 426 
Wordsworth, William (1770 1850), 279 

Xenophon, 265 

Young, Edward (1681 1765), 87, 91, 388 

Zigabenus (1125), 257 



TITLE. 7Ys Psalm may be regarded as THE PREFACE PSALM, having in it a 
notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmist s desire to teach us 
the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This then, 
is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the 
text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. 

DIVISION. This Psalm consists of two parts : in the first (from verse 1 to the end 
of the 3rd) David sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consisteth, 
what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second 
part (from verse 4 to the end) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals 
the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom. 


BLESSED is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, 
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the 

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD ; and in his law doth he 
meditate day and night. 

" BLESSED " see how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even 
as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount I The word translated 
" blessed " is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a con 
troverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may 
learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God 
hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. 
We might read it, " Oh, the blessednesses I " and we may well regard it (as Ains- 
worth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man s felicity. May the like 
benediction rest on us I 

Here the gracious man is described both negatively (verse 1) and positively 
(verse 2). He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes 
wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him 
the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered 
by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. 
It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when 
ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of 
sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, 
he is now a blood-washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in 
heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, 
he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, " nor sitteth in 
the seat of the scornful." He finds no rest in the atheist s scoffings. Let others 
make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God ; this 
man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense 
of God s presence to endure to hear his name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner 
may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell ; let us flee from it, for 
it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. 
Mark the gradation in the first verse : 

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, 
Nor standeth in the way of sinners. 

When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely 
walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God the evil is rather 
practical than habitual but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they 



stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God s commandments ; and 
if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers 
and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have 
taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, 
and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the 
man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such 
characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers ; he puts away evil 
things from him as garments spotted by the flesh ; he comes out from among the 
wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace 
to be thus separate from sinners. 

And now mark his positive character. " His delight is in the law of the Lord." 
He is not under the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is in it, and he delights 
to be in it as his rule of life ; he delights, moreover, to meditate in it, to read it by 
day, and think upon it by night. He takes a text and carries it with him all day 
long ; and in the night-watches, when sleep forsakes his eyelids, he museth upon- 
the Word of God. In the day of his prosperity he sings psalms out of the Word 
of God, and in the night of his affliction he comforts himself with promises out 
of the same book. " The law of the Lord " is the daily bread of the true believer. 
And yet, in David s day, how small was the volume of inspiration, for they had 
scarcely anything save the first five books of Moses 1 How much more, then, 
should we prize the whole written Word which it is our privilege to have in all our 
houses ! But, alas, what ill-treatment is given to this angel from heaven I We 
are not all Berean searchers of the Scriptures. How few among us can lay claim 
to the benediction of the text 1 Perhaps some of you can claim a sort of negative 
purity, because you do not walk in the way of the ungodly ; but let me ask you 
Is your delight in the law of God ? Do you study God s Word ? Do you make 
it the man of your right hand your best companion and hourly guide ? If not, 
this blessing belongeth not to you. 

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth 
forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not wither ; and whatsoever 
he doeth shall prosper. 

" And he shall be like a tree planted ; " not a wild tree, but " a tree planted," 
chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last terrible up 
rooting, for " every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be 
rooted up:" Matthew xv. 13. " By the rivers of water ; " so that even if one river 
should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the 
rivers of the promise and the rivers of the communion with Christ, are never-failing 
sources of supply. He is " like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth 
his fruit in his season ; " not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are 
never full-flavoured. But the man who delights in God s Word, being taught by it, 
bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy 
joy in the hour of prosperity. Fruitfulness is an essential quality of a gracious 
man, and that fruitfulness should be seasonable. " His leaf also shall not wither ; " 
his faintest word shall be everlasting ; his little deeds of love shall be had in remem 
brance. Not simply shall his fruit be preserved, but his leaf also. He shall neither 
lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness. " And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." 
Blessed is the man who hath such a promise as this. But we must not always 
estimate the fulfilment of a promise by our own eye-sight. How often, my brethren, 
if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, 
All these things are against me ! " For though we know our interest in the promise, 
yet are we so tried and troubled, that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise 
foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our 
works are prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not out 
ward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values ; it is soul prosperity 
which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships to go to Tarshish for gold, 
but they are broken at Ezion-geber ; but even here there is a true prospering, for 
it is often for the soul s health that we should be poor, bereaved, and persecuted. 
Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the 
wicked man s mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man s crosses, 
losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he 
grows and brings forth abundant fruit. 


4 The ungodly are not so : but are like the chaff which the wind driveth 

We have now come to the second head of the Psalm. In this verse the contrast 
of the ill estate of the wicked is employed to heighten the colouring of that fair 
and pleasant picture which precedes it. The more forcible translation of the Vulgate 
and of the Septuagint version is " Not so the ungodly, not so." And we are hereby 
to understand that whatever good thing is said of the righteous is not true in the case 
of the ungodly. Oh ! how terrible is it to have a double negative put upon the 
promises ! and yet this is just the condition of the ungodly. Mark the use of the 
term " ungodly," for, as we have seen in the opening of the Psalm, these are 
the beginners in evil, and are the least offensive of sinners. Oh ! if such is the sad 
state of those who quietly continue in their morality, and neglect their God, what 
must be the condition of open sinners and shameless infidels ? The first sentence 
is a negative description of the ungodly, and the second is the positive picture. 
Here is their character " they are like chaff," intrinsically worthless, dead, un 
serviceable, without substance, and easily carried away. Here, also, mark their 
doom " the wind driveth away ; " death shall hurry them with its terrible blast 
into the fire in which they shall be utterly consumed. 

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in 
the congregation of the righteous. 

They shall stand there to be judged, but not to be acquitted. Fear shall lay 
hold upon them there ; they shall not stand their ground ; they shall flee away ; 
they shall not stand in their own defence ; for they shall blush and be covered with 
eternal contempt. 

Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there, " nor 
sinners in the congregation of the righteous." All our congregations upon earth are 
mixed. Every Church has one devil in it. The tares grow in the same furrows as 
the wheat. There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from chaff. Sinners 
mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God s precious diamonds still lie in 
the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this side heaven continually 
vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in " the general assembly 
and church of the firstborn " above, there shall by no means be admitted a single 
unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. 
Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise. Heaven would 
be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter ; 
but such a privilege shall never be granted to the man who perseveres in his iniquities. 
May God grant that we may have a name and a place in his courts above! 

6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous : but the way of the 
ungodly shall perish. 

Or, as the Hebrew hath it yet more fully, " The Lord is knowing the way of the 
righteous." He is constantly looking on their way, and though it may be often 
in mist and darkness, yet the Lord knoweth it. If it be in the clouds and tempest 
of affliction, he understandeth it. He numbereth the hairs of our head ; he will 
not suffer any evil to befall us. " He knoweth the way that I take : when he hath 
tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job xxiii. 10.) " But the way of the ungodly 
shall perish." Not only shall they perish themselves, but their way shall perish too. 
The righteous carves his name upon the rock, but the wicked writes his remembrance 
in the sand. The righteous man ploughs the furrows of earth, and sows a harvest 
here, which shall never be fully reaped till he enters the enjoyments of eternity ; 
but as for the wicked, he ploughs the sea, and though there may seem to be a shining 
trail behind his keel, yet the waves shall pass over it, and the place that knew him 
shall know him no more for ever. The very " way " of the ungodly shall perish. 
If it exist in remembrance, it shall be in the remembrance of the bad ; for the Lord 
will cause the name of the wicked to rot, to become a stench in the nostrils of the good, 
and to be only known to the wicked themselves by its putridity. 

May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom 
of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous ! 



Whole Psalm. As the book of the Canticles is called the Song of Songs by a 
Hebraism, it being the most excellent, so this Psalm may not unfitly be entitled, 
the Psalm of Psalms, for it contains in it the very pith and quintessence of 
Christianity. What Jerome saith on St. Paul s epistles, the same may I say of this 
Psalm ; it is short as to the composure, but full of length and strength as to the 
matter. This Psalm carries blessedness in the frontispiece ; it begins where we all 
hope to end : it may well be called a Christian s Guide, for it discovers the quick 
sands where the wicked sink down in perdition, and the firm ground on which 
the saints tread to glory. Thomas Watson s Saints Spiritual Delight, 1660. 

This whole Psalm offers itself to be drawn into these two opposite propositions : 
a godly man is blessed, a wicked man is miserable ; which seem to stand as two 
challenges, made by the prophet : one, that he will maintain a godly man against 
all comers, to be the only Jason for winning the golden fleece of blessedness ; the 
other, that albeit the ungodly make a show in the world of being happy, yet they 
of all men are most miserable. Sir Richard Baker, 1640. 

I have been induced to embrace the opinion of some among the ancient inter 
preters (Augustine, Jerome, etc.), who conceive that the first Psalm is intended 
to be descriptive of the character and reward of the JUST ONE, i.e. the Lord Jesus. 
John Fry, B.A., 1&42. 

Verse 1. The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this 
short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together ; they 
did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand. John Trapp, 1660. 

Verse 1. Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we 
shall find a godly man within. Sir Richard Baker. 

Verse 1. The seat of the drunkard is the seat of the scornful. Matthew 
Henry, 16621714. 

Verse 1. " Walketh NOT NOR standeth NOR sittelh," etc. Negative 

precepts are in some cases more absolute and peremptory than affirmatives ; for 
to say, " that hath walked in the counsel of the godly," might not be sufficient ; for, 
he might walk in the counsel of the godly, and yet walk in the counsel of the ungodly 
too ; not both indeed at once, but both at several times ; where now, this negative 
clears him at all times. Sir Richard Baker. 

Verse 1. The word ><n haish is emphatic, that man; that one among a thousand 
who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. Adam 
Clarke, 1844. 

Verse 1. " That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." Mark certain cir 
cumstances of their differing characters and conduct. I. The ungodly man has 
his counsel. II. The sinner has his way ; and III. The scorner has his seat. The 
ungodly man is unconcerned about religion ; he is neither zealous for his own salva 
tion nor for that of others ; and he counsels and advises those with whom he con 
verses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repen 
tance, etc., etc. ; " there is no need for such things ; live an honest life, make no 
fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last." Now, " blessed is the 
man who walks not in this man s counsel," who does not come into his measures, 
nor act according to his plan. 

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing ; one is a. drunkard, another 
dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are 
many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness > 
and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin ; therefore, says the prophet, 
" Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY." Now, blessed is he who stands not in such a man s 


The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling 
to an end. He has sat down is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock 
at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessea 
is the man who sits not down in his SEAT. Adam Clarke. 

Verse 1. In the Hebrew, the word " blessed " is a plural noun, ashrey (blessed 
nesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, 
etc. ; as though it were said, " All things are well with that man who," etc. Why 
do you hold any dispute ? Why draw vain conclusions ? If a man has found that 


pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, 
all blessednesses belong to that man ; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will 
seek for all blessednesses but will never find one I For as all things are pure unto 
the pure, so all things are lovely unto the loving, all things good unto the good ; 
and, universally, such as thou art thyself, such is God himself unto thee, though 
he is not a creature. He is perverse unto the perverse, and holy unto the holy. 
Hence nothing can be good or saving unto him who is evil ; nothing sweet unto him 
unto whom the law of God is not sweet. The word " counsel " is without doubt 
here to be received as signifying decrees and doctrines, seeing that no society of 
men exists without being formed and preserved by decrees and laws. David, how 
ever, by this term strikes at the pride and reprobate temerity of the ungodly. First, 
because they will not humble themselves so far as to walk in the law of the Lord, 
but rule themselves by their own counsel. And then he calls it their " counsel," 
because it is their prudence, and the way that seems to them to be without error. 
For this is the destruction of the ungodly their being prudent in their own eyes 
and in their own esteem, and clothing their errors in the garb of prudence and 
of the right way. For if they came to men in the open garb of error, it would 
not be so distinguishing a mark of blessedness not to walk with them. But David 
does not here say, " in the folly of the ungodly," or " in the error of the ungodly ; " 
and therefore he admonishes us to guard with all diligence against the appearance 
of what is right, that the devil transformed into an angel of light do not seduce 
us by his craftiness. And he contrasts the counsel of the wicked with the law of 
the Lord, that we may learn to beware of wolves in sheep s clothing, who are always 
ready to give counsel to all, to teach all, and to offer assistance unto all, when they 
are of all men the least qualified to do so. The term " stood " descriptively represents 
their obstinacy, and stiff-neckedness, wherein they harden themselves and make 
their excuses in words of malice, having become incorrigible in their ungodliness. 
For " to stand," in the figurative manner of Scripture expression, signifies to be 
firm and fixed : as in Rom, xiv. 4, " To his own master he standeth or falleth : yea, 
he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand." Hence the word 
" column " is by the Hebrew derived from their verb " to stand," as is the word 
statue among the Latins. For this is the very self-excuse and self-hardening of 
the ungodly their appearing to themselves to live rightly, and to shine in the 
eternal show of works above all others. With respect to the term " seat," to sit in 
the seat, is to teach, to act the instructor and teacher ; as in Matt, xxiii. 2, " The 
scribes sit in Moses chair." They sit in the seat of pestilence, who fill the church 
with the opinions of philosophers, with the traditions of men, and with the counsels 
of their own brain, and oppress miserable consciences, setting aside, all the while, the 
word of God, by which alone the soul is fed, lives, and is preserved. Martin Luther, 

Verse 1. " The scornful." Peccator cum in profundum venerit contemnet 
when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the 
Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus ii. 14), " Who made thee a prince and a judge 
over us ? " Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1 Kings xxii. 18), because he 
doth not prophesy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha 
(2 Kings ii. 23), and be bold to call him " bald pate." Here is an original drop of 
venom swollen to a main ocean of poison : as one drop of some serpents poison, 
lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body 
till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall " laugh you to scorn," (Psalm ii. 4), 
for laughing him to scorn ; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. 
That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your 
indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, 
but stand up against your souls in judgment. Thomas Adams, 1614. 

Verse 2. " But his will is in the law of the Lord." The " will," which is here 
signified, is that delight of heart, and that certain pleasure, in the law, which does 
not look at what the law promises, nor at what it threatens, but at this only ; that 
" the law is holy, and just, and good." Hence it is not only a love of the law, but 
that loving delight in the law which no prosperity, nor adversity, nor the world, 
nor the prince of it, can either take away or destroy ; for it victoriously bursts its 
way through poverty, evil report, the cross, death, and hell, and in the midst of 
adversities, shines the brightest. Martin Luther. 

Verse 2. " His delight is in the law ot the Lord." This delight which the prophet 


here speaks of is the only delight that neither blushes nor looks pale ; the only delight 
that gives a repast without an after reckoning ; the only delight that stands in 
construction with all tenses ; and like ./Eneas Anchyses, carries his parents upon 
his back. Sir Richard Baker. 

Verse 2. " In his law doth he meditate." In the plainest text there is a world 
of holiness and spirituality ; and if we in prayer and dependence upon God did 
sit down and study it, we should behold much more than appears to us. It may 
be, at once reading or looking, we see little or nothing ; as Elijah s servant went 
once, and saw nothing ; therefore he was commanded to look seven times. What 
now ? says the prophet, " I see a cloud rising, like a man s hand ; " and by-and-by, 
the whole surface of the heavens was covered with clouds. So you may look lightly 
upon a Scripture and see nothing ; meditate often upon it, and there you shall see a 
light, like the light of the sun." Joseph Caryl, 1647. 

Verse 2. " In his law doth he meditate day and night." The good man doth 
meditate on the law of God day and night. The pontificians beat off the common 
people from this common treasury, by objecting this supposed difficulty. Oh, 
the Scriptures are hard to be understood, do not you trouble your heads about 
them ; we will tell you the meaning of them. They might as well say, heaven is a 
blessed place, but it is a hard way to it ; do not trouble yourselves, we will go thither 
for you. Thus in the great day of trial, when they should be saved by their book, 
alas 1 they have no book to save them. Instead of the Scriptures they can present 
images; these are the laymen s books; as if they were to be tried by a jury of 
carvers and painters, and not by the twelve apostles. Be not you so cheated ; but 
study the gospel as you look for comfort by the gospel. He that hopes for the 
inheritance, will make much of the conveyance. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 2. To " meditate" as it is generally understood, signifies to discuss, to 
dispute ; and its meaning is always confined to a being employed in words, as in 
Psalm xxxii. 30, " The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom." Hence 
Augustine has, in his translation, " chatter " ; and a beautiful metaphor it is as 
chattering is the employment of birds, so a continual conversing in the law of the 
Lord (for talking is peculiar to man), ought to be the employment of man. But I 
cannot worthily and fully set forth the gracious meaning and force of this word ; 
for this " meditating " consists first in an intent observing of the words of the law, 
and then in a comparing of the different Scriptures ; which is a certain delightful 
hunting, nay, rather a playing with stags in a forest, where the Lord furnishes us 
with the stags, and opens to us their secret coverts. And from this kind of employ 
ment, there comes forth at length a man well instructed in the law of the Lord to 
speak unto the people. Martin Luther. 

Verse 2. " In his law doth he meditate day and night." The godly man will 
read the Word by day, that men, seeing his good works, may glorify his Father who 
is in heaven ; he will do it in the night, that he may not be seen of men : by day, 
to show that he is not one of those who dread the light ; by night, to show that he 
is one who can shine in the shade : by day, for that is the time for working work 
whilst it is day ; by night, lest his Master should come as a thief, and find him idle. 
Sir Richard Baker. 

Verse 2. I have no rest, but in a nook, with the book. Thomas a Kempis, 

Verse 2. " Meditate." Meditation doth discriminate and characterise a man ; 
by this he may take a measure of his heart, whether it be good or bad ; let me allude 
to that ; " For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Prov. xxiii. 7. As the meditation 
is, such is the man. Meditation is the touchstone of a Christian ; it shows what 
metal he is made of. It is a spiritual index ; the index shows what is in the book, 
so meditation shows what is in the heart. Thomas Watson s Saints Spiritual 

Meditation chews the cud, and gets the sweetness and nutritive virtue of the 
Word into the heart and life : this is the way the godly bring forth much fruit. 
Bartholomew Ashwood s Heavenly Trade, 1688. 

The naturalists observe that to uphold and accommodate bodily life, there 
are divers sorts of faculties communicated, and these among the rest : 1. An attrac 
tive faculty, to assume and draw in the food ; 2. A retentive faculty, to retain it 
when taken in ; 3. An assimilating faculty, to concoct the nourishment ; 4. An 
augmenting faculty, for drawing to perfection. Meditation is all these. It helps 
judgment, wisdom, and faith to ponder, discern, and credit the things which reading 


and hearing supply and furnish. It assists the memory to lock up the jewels of divine 
truth in her sure treasury. It has a digesting power, and turns special truth into 
spiritual nourishment ; and lastly, it helps the renewed heart to grow upward and 
increase its power to know the things which are freely given to us of God. Condensed 
from Nathaniel Ranew, 1670. 

Verse 3. " A tree." There is one tree, only to be found in the valley of the 
Jordan, but too beautiful to be entirely passed over ; the oleander, with its bright 
blossoms and dark green leaves, giving the aspect of a rich garden to any spot where 
it grows. It is rarely if ever alluded to in the Scriptures. But it may be the tree 
planted by the streams of water rvhich bringeth forth his fruit in due season, and 
" whose leaf shall not wither." A. P. Stanley, D.D., in " Sinai and Palestine." 

Verse 3. " A tree planted by the rivers of water." This is an allusion to the 
Eastern method of cultivation, by which rivulets of water are made to flow between 
the rows of trees, and thus, by artificial means, the trees receive a constant supply 
of moisture. 

Verse 3. " His fruit in his season." In such a case expectation is never dis 
appointed. Fruit is expected, fruit is borne, and it comes also in the time in which 
it should come. A godly education, under the influences of the divine Spirit, which 
can never be withheld where they are earnestly sought, is sure to produce the fruits 
of righteousness ; and he who reads, prays, and meditates, will ever see the work 
which God has given him to do ; the power by which he is to perform it ; and the 
times, places, and opportunities for doing those things by which God can obtain most 
glory, his own soul most good, and his neighbour most edification. A dam Clarke. 

Verse 3. " In his season." The Lord reckons the times which pass over us, 
and puts them to our account : let us, therefore, improve them, and, with the im 
potent persons at the pool of Bethesda, step in when the angel stirs the water. Now 
the church is afflicted, it is a season of prayer and learning ; now the church is 
enlarged, it is a season of praise ; I am now at a sermon, I will hear what God will 
say ; now in the company of a learned and wise man, I will draw some knowledge 
and counsel from him ; I am under a temptation, now is a fit time to lean on the 
name of the Lord ; I am in a place of dignity and power, let me consider what it is 
that God requireth of me in such a time as this. And thus as the tree of life bringeth 
fruit every month, so a wise Christian, as a wise husbandman, hath his distinct em 
ployments for every month, bringing forth his fruit in his season. John Spencer s 
Things New and Old, 1658. 

Verse 3. " In his season." Oh, golden and admirable word I by which is 
asserted the liberty of Christian righteousness. The ungodly have their stated 
days, stated times, certain works, and certain places ; to which they stick so closely, 
that if their neighbours were perishing with hunger, they could not be torn from 
them. But this blessed man, being free at all times, in all places, for every work, and 
to every person, will serve you whenever an opportunity is offered him ; whatsoever 
comes into his hands to do, he does it. He is neither a Jew, nor a Gentile, nor a Greek, 
nor a barbarian, nor of any other particular person. He gives his fruit in his season, 
so often as either God or man requires his work. Therefore his fruits have no name, 
and his times have no name. Martin Luther. 

Verse 3. " His leaf also shall not wither." He describes the fruit before he 
does the leaf. The Holy Spirit himself always teaches every faithful preacher in 
the church to know that the kingdom of God does not stand in word but in power. 
1 Cor. iv. 20. Again, " Jesus began both to do and to teach." Acts i. 1. And 
again, " Which was a prophet mighty in deed and word." Luke xxiv. 19. And 
thus, let him who professes the word of doctrine, first put forth the fruits of life, if ht 
would not have his fruit to wither, for Christ cursed the fig tree which bore no fruit. 
And as Gregory saith, that man whose life is despised is condemned by his doctrine, 
for he preaches to others, and is himself reprobated. Martin Luther. 

Verse 3. " His leaf also shall not wither." The Lord s trees are all evergreens. 
No winter s cold can destroy their verdure ; and yet, unlike evergreens in our 
country, they are all fruit bearers. C. H. S. 

Verse 3. " And whatsoever he doeth, [or, maketh or taketh in hand] shall prosper." 
And with regard to this " prospering," take heed that thou understandest not a 
carnal prosperity. This prosperity is hidden prosperity, and lies entirely secret in 
spirit ; and therefore if thou hast not this prosperity that is by faith, thou shouldst 
rather judge thy prosperity to be the greatest adversity. For as the devil bitterly 


hates this leaf and the word of God, so does he also those who teach and hear it, 
and he persecutes such, aided by all the powers of the world. Therefore thou hearest 
of a miracle the greatest of all miracles, when thou hearest that all things prosper 
which a blessed man doeth. Martin Luther. 

Verse 3. A critical journal has shown that instead of " Whatsoever it doeth 
shall prosper," the rendering might be, " Whatsoever it produceth shall come to 
maturity." This makes the figure entire, and is sanctioned by some MSS. and ancient 

Verse 3 (last clause). Outward prosperity, if it follow close walking with God, 
is very sweet ; as the cipher, when it follows a figure, adds to the number, though 
it be nothing in itself. John Trapp. 

Verse 4. " Chaff." Here by the way, we may let the wicked know they have 
a thanks to give they little think of ; that they may thank the godly for all the good 
days they live upon the earth, seeing it is for their sakes and not for their own that 
they enjoy them. For as the chaff while it is united and keeps close to the wheat, 
enjoys some privileges for the wheat s sake, and is laid up carefully in the barn ; 
but as soon as it is divided, and parted from the wheat, it is cast out and scattered 
by the wind ; so the wicked, whilst the godly are in company and live amongst 
them, partake for their sake of some blessedness promised to the godly ; but if 
the godly forsake them or be taken from them, then either a deluge of water comes 
suddenly upon them, as it did upon the old world when Noah left it ; or a deluge 
of fire, as it did upon Sodom, when Lot left it,andwent out of the city. Sir Richard 

Verse 4. " Driveth away," or tosseth away ; the Chaldee translateth for " wind," 
" whirlwind." Henry Ainsworth, 1639. 

This shows the vehement tempest of death, which sweeps away the soul of the 

Verse 5. " Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment," etc. And 
may not a reason also be conceived thus, why the ungodly can never come to be of 
the congregation of the righteous : the righteous go a way that God knows, and 
the wicked go a way that God destroys ; and seeing that these ways can never 
meet, how should the men meet that go these ways ? And to make sure work 
that they shall never meet indeed, the prophet expresseth the way of the righteous 
by the first link of the chain of God s goodness, which is his knowledge ; but 
expresseth the way of the wicked by the last link of God s justice, which is his des 
troying ; and though God s justice and his mercy do often meet, and are contiguous 
one to another, yet the first link of his mercy and the last link of his justice can 
never meet, for it never comes to destroying till God be heard to say Nescio vos, 
" I know you not," and nescio vos in God, and God s knowledge, can certainly never 
possibly meet together.- Sir Richard Baker. 

Verse 5. The Irish air will sooner brook a toad, or a snake, than heaven a 
sinner. John Trapp. 

Verse 6. " For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : but the way of the 
ungodly shall perish." Behold how David here terrifies us away from all prosperous 
appearances, and commends to us various temptations and adversities. For this 
" way " of the righteous all men utterly reprobate ; thinking also, that God knoweth 
nothing about any such way. But this is the wisdom of the cross. Therefore, 
it is God alone that knoweth the way of the righteous, so hidden is to it the righteous 
themselves. For his right hand leads them on in a wonderful manner, seeing that 
it is a way, not of sense, nor of reason, but of faith only ; even of that faith that 
sees in darkness, and beholds things that are invisible. Martin Luther. 

Verse 6. " The righteous." They that endeavour righteous living in them 
selves and have Christ s righteousness imputed to them. Thomas Wilcocks, 1586. 


Verse 1. May furnish an excellent text upon " Progress in Sin," of " The Purity 
of the Christian," or " The Blessedness of the Righteous." Upon the last subject 
speak of the believer as BLESSED 1. By God ; 2. In Christ ; 3. With all blessings ; 
4. In all circumstances ; 5. Through time and eternity ; 6. To the highest degree. 


Verse 1. Teaches a godly man to beware, (1) of the opinions, (2) of the practical 
life, and (3) of the company and association of sinful men. Show how meditation 
upon the Word will assist us in keeping aloof from these three evils. 

The insinuating and progressive nature of sin. J. Morison. 

Verse 1, in connection with the whole Psalm. The wide difference between the 
righteous and the wicked. 

Verse 2. THE WORD OF GOD. 1. The believer s delight in it. 2. The believer s 
acquaintance with it. We long to be in the company of those we love. 

Verse 2. I. What is meant by " the law of the Lord." II. What there is in 
it for the believer to delight in. III. How he shows his delight, thinks of it, reads 
much, speaks of it, obeys it, does not delight in evil. 

Verse 2 (last clause). The benefits, helps, and hindrances of meditation. 

Verse 3." The fruitful tree." I. Where it grows. II. How it came there. 
III. What it yields. IV. How to be like it. 

Verse 3. " Planted by the rivers of water." I. The origination of Christian 
life, " planted." II. The streams which support it. III. The fruit expected from it. 

Verse 3. Influence of religion upon prosperity. Blair. 

The nature, causes, signs, and results of true prosperity. 

" Fruit in his season ; " virtues to be exhibited at certain seasons patience in 
affliction ; gratitude in prosperity ; zeal in opportunity, etc. 

" His leaf also shall not wither ; " the blessing of retaining an unwithered pro 

Verses 3, 4. See No. 280 of "Spurgeon s Sermons." "The Chaff Driven Away." 
Sin puts a negative on every blessing. 

Verse 5. The sinner s double doom. 1. Condemned at the judgment-bar. 

2. Separated from the saints. Reasonableness of these penalties, " therefore," 
and the way to escape them. 

" The congregation of the righteous " viewed as the church of the first-born above. 
This may furnish a noble topic. 

Verse 6 (first sentence). A sweet encouragement to the tried people of God. 
The knowledge here meant. 1. Its character. It is a knowledge of observation 
and approbation. 2. Its source. It is caused by omniscience and infinite love. 

3. Its results. Support, deliverance, acceptance, and glory at last. 

Verse 6 (last clause). His way of pleasure, of pride, of unbelief, of profanity, 
of persecution, of procrastinating, of self-deception, etc. ; all these shall come to 
an end. 


TITLE. We shall not greatly err in our summary of this sublime Psalm if we call 
it THE PSALM OF MESSIAH THE PRINCE ; for it sets forth as in a wondrous vision 
the tumult of the people against the Lord s anointed, the determinate purpose of God 
to exalt his own Son, and the ultimate reign of that Son over all his enemies. Let us 
read it with the eye of faith, beholding, as in a glass, the final triumph of our Lord Jesus 
Christ over all his enemies. Lowth has the following remarks upon this Psalm : " The 
establishment of David upon his throne, notwithstanding the opposition made to it 
by his enemies, is the subject of the Psalm. David sustains in it a twofold character, 
literal and allegorical. If we read over the Psalm, first with an eye to the literal David, 
the meaning is obvious, and put beyond all dispute by the sacred history. There is 
indeed an uncommon glow in the expression and sublimity in the figures, and the diction 
is now and then exaggerated, as it were on purpose to intimate, and lead us to the con 
templation of higher and more important matters concealed within. Incompliance 
with this admonition, if we take another survey of the Psalm as relative to the person and 
concerns of the spiritual David, a noble series of events immediately rises to view, and 
the meaning becomes more evident, as well as more exalted. The colouring which may 
perhaps seem too bold and glaring for the king of Israel, will no longer appear so when 
laid upon his great Antitype. After we have thus attentively considered the subjects apart, 
let us look at them together, and we shall behold the full beauty and majesty of this most 
charming poem. We shall perceive the two senses very distinct from each other, yet 
conspiring in perfect harmony, and bearing a wonderful resemblance in every feature 
and lineament, while the analogy between them is so exactly preserved, that either may 
pass for the original from whence the other was copied. New light is continually cast 
upon the phraseology, fresh weight and dignity are added to the sentiments, till, gradually 
ascending from things below to things above, from human affairs to those that are Divine, 
they bear the great important theme upwards with them, and at length place it in the 
height and brightness of heaven." 

DIVISION. This Psalm will be best understood if it be viewed as a four-fold picture. 
(In verses 1, 2, 3) the Nations are raging ; (4 to 6) the Lord in heaven derides them ; 
(7 to 9) the Son proclaims the decree ; and (from 10 to end) advice is given to the kings 
to yield obedience to the Lord s anointed. This division is not only suggested by the 
sense, but is warranted by the poetic form of the Psalm, which naturally falls into four 
stanzas of three verses each. 


WHY do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing ? 
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel 
together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 

3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 

We have, in these first three verses, a description of the hatred of human nature 
against the Christ of God. No better comment is needed upon it than the apostolic 
song in Acts iv. 27, 28 : " For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou 
hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people 
of Israel, were gathered together, ror to ao whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel 
determined before to be done." The Psalm begins abruptly with an angry 
interrogation ; and well it may : it is surely but little to be wondered at, that the 
sight of creatures in arms against their God should amaze the psalmist s mind. 
We see the heathen raging, roaring like the sea, tossed to and fro with restless waves, 
as the ocean in a storm ; and then we mark the people in their hearts imagining a 
vain thing against God. Where there is much rage there is generally some folly, 
and in this case there is an excess of it. Note, that the commotion is not caused 
by the people only, but their leaders foment the rebellion. " The kings of the earth 
set themselves." In determined malice they arrayed themselves in opposition 
against God. It was not temporary rage, but deep-seated hate, for they set them 
selves resolutely to withstand the Prince of Peace. " And the rulers take counsel 


together." They go about their warfare craftily, not with foolish haste, but 
deliberately. They use all the skill which art can give. Like Pharaoh, they cry, 
" Let us deal wisely with them." O that men were half as careful in God s service 
to serve him wisely, as his enemies are to attack his kingdom craftily. Sinners 
have their wits about them, and yet saints are dull. But what say they ? what is 
the meaning of this commotion ? " Let us break their bands asunder." " Let us 
be free to commit all manner of abominations. Let us be our own gods. Let us 
rid ourselves of all restraint." Gathering impudence by the traitorous proposition 
of rebellion, they add " let us cast away ; " as if it were an easy matter, " let us 
fling off their cords from us. " What 1 O ye kings, do ye think yourselves Samsons ? 
and are the bands of Omnipotence but as green withs before you ? Do you dream 
that you shall snap to pieces and destroy the mandates of God the decrees of the 
Most High as if they were but tow ? And do ye say, " Let us cast away their cords 
from us ? " Yes I There are monarchs who have spoken thus, and there are still 
rebels upon thrones. However mad the resolution to revolt from God, it is one in 
which man has persevered ever since his creation, and he continues in it to this very 
day. The glorious reign of Jesus in the latter day will not be consummated, until a 
terrible struggle has convulsed the nations. His coming will be as a refiner s fire, and 
like fuller s soap, and the day thereof shall burn as an oven. Earth loves not her 
rightful monarch, but clings to the usurper s sway : the terrible conflicts of the 
last days will illustrate both the world s love of sin and Jehovah s power to give 
the kingdom to his only Begotten. To a graceless neck the yoke of Christ is intol 
erable, but to the saved sinner it is easy and light. We may judge ourselves by 
this, do we love that yoke, or do we wish to cast it from us ? 

4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh : the Lord shall have them 
in derision. 

Let us now turn our eyes from the wicked council-chamber and raging tumult of 
man, to the secret place of the majesty of the Most High. What doth God say ? 
What will the King do unto the men who reject his only-begotten Son, the Heir 
of all things? 

Mark the quiet dignity of the Omnipotent One, and the contempt which he 
pours upon the princes and their raging people. He has not taken the trouble to 
rise up and do battle with them he despises them, he knows how absurd, how 
irrational, how futile are their attempts against him he therefore laughs at them. 

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore 

6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 

After he has laughed he shall speak ; he needs not smite ; the breath of his 
lips is enough. At the moment when their power is at its height, and their fury 
most violent, then shall his Word go forth against them. And what is it that he 
says ? it is a very galling sentence " Yet," says he, " despite your malice, despite 
your tumultuous gatherings, despite the wisdom of your counsels, despite the craft 
of your lawgivers, yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. " Is not that a 
grand exclamation 1 He has already done that which the enemy seeks to prevent. 
While they are proposing, he has disposed the matter. Jehovah s will is done, and 
man s will frets and raves in vain. God s Anointed is appointed, and shall not be 
disappointed. Look back through all the ages of infidelity, hearken to the high 
and hard things which men have spoken against the Most High, listen to the rolling 
thunder of earth s volleys against the Majesty of heaven, and then think that God 
is saying all the while, " Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." Yet 
Jesus reigns, yet he sees of the travail of his soul, and " his unsuffering kingdom 
yet shall come " when he shall take unto himself his great power, and reign 
from the river unto the ends of the earth. Even now he reigns in Zion, and 
our glad lips sound forth the praises of the Prince of Peace. Greater conflicts 
may here be foretold, but we may be confident that victory will be given 
to our Lord and King. Glorious triumphs are yet to come ; hasten them, we pray 
thee, O Lord 1 It is Zion s glory and joy that her King is in her, guarding her from 
foes, and filling her with good things. Jesus sits upon the throne of grace, and the 


throne of power in the midst of his church. In him is Zion s best safeguard ; let 
her citizens be glad in him. 

" Thy walls are strength, and at thy gates 
A guard of heavenly warriors waits ; 
Nor shall thy deep foundations move, 
Fixed on his counsels and his love. 

Thy foes in vain designs engage ; 
Against his throne in vain they rage, 
Like rising waves, with angry roar, 
That dash and die upon the shore." 

7 I will declare the decree : the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my son ; 
this day have I begotten thee. 

8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and 
the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 

9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ; thou shalt dash them in pieces 
like a potter s vessel. 

This Psalm wears something of a dramatic form, for now another person is 
introduced as speaking. We have looked into the counsel-chamber of the wicked, 
and to the throne of God, and now we behold the Anointed declaring his rights of 
sovereignty, and warning the traitors of their doom. 

God has laughed at the counsel and ravings of the wicked, and now Christ the 
Anointed himself comes forward, as the Risen Redeemer, " declared to be the Son 
of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the 
dead." Rom. i. 4. Looking into the angry faces of the rebellious kings, the 
Anointed One seems to say, " If this sufficeth not to make you silent, / will declare 
the decree. " Now this decree is directly in conflict with the device of man, for its 
tenour is the establishment of the very dominion against which the nations are 
raving. " Thou art my Son." Here is a noble proof of the glorious Divinity of 
our Immanuel. " For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, 
this day have I begotten thee ? " What a mercy to have a Divine Redeemer in 
whom to rest our confidence I " This day have I begotten thee." If this refers to 
the Godhead of our Lord, let us not attempt to fathom it, for it is a great truth, a 
truth reverently to be received, but not irreverently to be scanned. It may be added, 
that if this relates to the Begotten One in his human nature, we must here also 
rejoice in the mystery, but not attempt to violate its sanctity by intrusive prying 
into the secrets of the Eternal God. The things which are revealed are enough, 
without venturing into vain speculations. In attempting to define the Trinity, 
or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves : here great ships 
have foundered. What have we to do in such a sea with our frail skiffs ? 

" Ask of me." It was a custom among great kings to give to favoured ones 
whatever they might ask. (See Esther v. 6 ; Matt. xiv. 7.) So Jesus hath but to 
ask and have. Here he declares that his very enemies are his inheritance. To 
their face he declares this decree, and " Lo 1 here," cries the Anointed One, as he 
holds aloft in that once pierced hand the sceptre of his power, " He hath given me 
this, not only the right to be a king, but the power to conquer." Yes ! Jehovah 
hath given to his Anointed a rod of iron with which he shall break rebellious nations 
in pieces, and, despite their imperial strength, they shall be but as potters vessels, 
easily dashed into shivers, when the rod of iron is in the hand of the omnipotent 
Son of God. Those who will not bend must break. Potters vessels are not to ba 
restored if dashed in pieces, and the ruin of sinners will be hopeless if Jesus shall 
smite them. 

" Ye sinners seek his grace, 
Whose wrath ye cannot bear ; 
Fly to the shelter of his cross, 
And find salvation there." 

10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings : be instructed, ye judges of the 

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 


12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his 
wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in 

The scene again changes, and counsel is given to those who have taken counsel 
to rebel. They are exhorted to obey, and give the kiss of homage and affection 
to him whom they have hated. 

" Be wise." It is always wise to be willing to be instructed, especially when 
such instruction tends to the salvation of the soul. " Be wise now, therefore ; " 
delay no longer, but let good reason weigh with you. Your warfare cannot succeed, 
therefore desist and yield cheerfully to him who will make you bow if you refuse 
his yoke. O how wise, how infinitely wise is obedience to Jesus, and how dreadful 
is the folly of those who continue to be his enemies ! " Serve the Lord with fear ; " 
let reverence and humility be mingled with your service. He is a great God, and 
ye are but puny creatures ; bend ye, therefore, in lowly worship, and let a filial fear 
mingle with all your obedience to the great Father of the Ages. " Rejoice with 
trembling." There must ever be a holy fear mixed with the Christian s joy. This 
is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet smell, and we must see to it that we burn no 
other upon the altar. Fear, without joy, is torment ; and joy, without holy fear, 
would be presumption. Mark the solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. 
It is an awful thing to perish in the midst of sin, in the very way of rebellion ; and 
yet how easily could his wrath destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger 
should be heated seven times hotter ; let the fuel kindle but a little, and we are con 
sumed. O sinner 1 Take heed of the terrors of the Lord ; for " our God is a con 
suming fire." Note the benediction with which the Psalm closes : " Blessed are 
all they that put their trust in him." Have we a share in this blessedness ? Do we 
trust in Aim ? Our faith my be slender as a spider s thread ; but if it be real, we 
are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this 
blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles : 
" Lord, increase our faith." 

The first Psalm was a contrast between the righteous man and the sinner ; the 
second Psalm is a contrast between the tumultuous disobedience of the ungodly 
world and the sure exaltation of the righteous Son of God. In the first Psalm, we 
saw the wicked driven away like chaff ; in the second Psalm, we see them broken 
in pieces like a potter s vessel. In the first Psalm, we beheld the righteous like a 
tree planted by the rivers of water ; and here, we contemplate Christ, the Covenant 
Head of the righteous, made better than a tree planted by the rivers of water, for he 
is made king of all the islands, and all the heathen bow before him and kiss the dust ; 
while he himself gives a blessing to all those who put their trust in him. The two 
Psalms are worthy of the very deepest attention ; they are, in fact, the preface in 
the entire Book of Psalms, and were by some of the ancients, joined into one. They 
are, however, two Psalms ; for Paul speaks of this as the second Psalm. (Acts 
xiii. 33.) The first shows us the character and lot of the righteous ; and the next 
teaches us that the Psalms are Messianic, and speak of Christ the Messiah the 
Prince who shall reign from the river even unto the ends of the earth. That they 
have both a far-reaching prophetic outlook we are well assured, but we do not feel 
competent to open up that matter, and must leave it to abler hands. 


Verse 1. " Why do nations make a noise," tumultuate or rage ? The Hebrew 
verb is not expressive of an internal feeling, but of the ourward agitation which 
denotes it. There may be an allusion to the rolling and roaring of the sea, often 
used as an emblem of popular commotion, both in the Scriptures and the classics. 
The past tense of this verb (why have they raged ?) refers to the commotion as already 
begun, while the future in the next clause expresses its continuance. J. A. Alexander, 
D.D., 1850. 

Verse I. " Rage." The word with which Paul renders this in the Greek de 
notes rage, pride, and restiveness, as of horses that neigh, and rush into the battle. 


E+pfatw, from *pwdww. to snort or nei g n properly applied to a high-mettled 
horse. See Acts iv. 25. 

Verse 1. " A vain thing." A medal was struck by Diocletian, which still remains 
bearing the inscription, " The name of Christians being extinguished." And in 
Spain, two monumental pillars were raised, on which were written : I. " Diocletian 
Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti, for having extended the Roman 
Empire in the east and the west, and for having extinguished the name of Christians, 
who brought the Republic to ruin." II. " Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus 
Caesares Augusti, for having adopted Galerius in the east, for having everywhere 
abolished the superstition of Christ, for having extended the worship of the gods." 
As a modern writer has elegantly observed : " We have here a monument raised 
by Paganism, over the grave of its vanquished foe. But in this, the people imagined 
a vain thing ; so far from being deceased, Christianity was on the eve of its final 
and permanent triumph, and the stone guarded a sepulchre empty as the urn which 
Electra washed with her tears. Neither in Spain, nor elsewhere, can be pointed 
out the burial place of Christianity ; it is not, for the living have no tomb." 

Verses 1 4. Herod, the fox, plotted against Christ, to hinder the course of 
his ministry and mediatorship, but he could not perform his enterprise ; tis so 
all along, therefore it is said, " Why do the heathen imagine a vain thing ? " A 
vain thing, because a thing successless, their hands could not perform it. It was vain, 
not only because there was no true ground of reason why they should imagine or do 
such a thing, but vain also because they laboured in vain, they could not do it, and 
therefore it follows, " He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh : the Lord shall have 
them in derision." The Lord see what fools they are, and men (yea, themselves) 
shall see it. The prophet gives us an elegant description to this purpose. Isaiah 

lix. 5, 6. " They weave the spider s web Their webs shall not become garments, 

neither shall they cover themselves with their works." As if he had said, they have been 
devising and setting things in a goodly frame to catch flies ; they have been spinning 
a fine thread out of their brains, as the spider doth out of her bowels ; such is their 
web, but when they have their web they cannot cut it out, or make it up into a 
garment. They shall go naked and cold, notwithstanding all their spinning and 
weaving, all their plotting and devising. The next broom that comes will sweep 
away all their webs and the spiders too, except they creep apace. God loves and 
delights to cross worldly proverbs and worldly craft. Joseph Caryl, 1647. 

Verse 2. The many had done their part, and now the mighty show themselves. 
John Trapp. 

Verse 2. " They banded themselves against the Lord, and against his Anointed." 
But why did they band themselves against the Lord, or against his Anointed ? 
What was their desire of him ? To have his goods ? No, he had none for him 
self ; but they were richer than he. To have his liberty ? Nay, that would not 
suffice them, for they had bound him before. To bring the people into dislike of 
him ? Nay, that would not serve them, for they had done so already, until even 
his disciples were fled from him. What would they have then ? his blood ? Yea, 
" they took counsel," saith Matthew, " to put him to death." They had the devil s 
mind, which is not satisfied but with death. And how do they contrive it ? He 
saith, " they took counsel about it." Henry Smith, 1578. 

Verse 2. " Against Jehovah and against his Anointed." What an honour it 
was to David to be thus publicly associated with Jehovah 1 And, because he was 
HIS anointed, to be an object of hatred and scorn to the ungodly world 1 If this 
very circumstance fearfully augmented the guilt, and sealed the doom of these 
infatuated heathen, surely it was that which above everything else would preserve 
the mind of David calm and serene, yea, peaceful and joyful notwithstanding the 

proud and boastful vauntiness of his enemies When writing this Psalm 

David was like a man in a storm, who hears only the roaring of the tempest, or sees 
nothing but the raging billows threatening destruction on every side of him. And 
yet his faith enabled him to say, " The people imagine a vain thing." They cannot 
succeed. They canot defeat the counsels of heaven. They cannot injure the 
Lord s Anointed. David Pitcairn, 1851. 

Verse 3. Resolved they were to run riot as lawless, and aweless, and therefore 
they slander the sweet laws of Christ s kingdom as bonds and thick cords, which 
are signs of slavery. Jer. xxvii. 2, 6, 7. But what saith our Saviour ? " My yoke 
is easy, and my burden is light." It is no more burden to a regenerate man than 


wings to a bird. The law of Christ is no more as bands and cords, but as girdles 
and garters which gird up his loins and expedite his course. John Trapp. 

Verse 4. " He that siiteth in the heavens." Hereby it is clearly intimated, (1) 
that the Lord is far above all their malice and power, (2) that he seeth all their 
plots, looking down on all ; (3) that he is of omnipotent power, and so can do 
with his enemies as he lists. " Our God is in the heavens : he hath done whatso 
ever he pleased." Psalm cxv. 3. Arthur Jackson, 1643. 

Verse 4. " He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh," etc. Sinners follies are 
the just sport of God s infinite wisdom and power ; and those attempts of the king 
dom of Satan, which in our eyes are formidable, in his are despicable. Mathew 

Verse 4. " He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh." They scoff at us, God 
laughs at them. Laugh ? This seems a hard word at the first view : are the in 
juries of his saints, the cruelties of their enemies, the derision, the persecution of all 
that are round about us, no more but matter of laughter ? Severe Cato thought 
that laughter did not become the gravity of Roman consuls ; that it is a diminution 
of states, as another told princes ; and is it attributed to the Majesty of heaven ? 
According to our capacities, the prophet describes God, as ourselves would be in a 
merry disposition, deriding vain attempts. He laughs, but it is in scorn ; he scorns, 
but it is with vengeance. Pharaoh imagined that by drowning the Israelite males, 
he had found a way to root their name from the earth ; but when at the same time, 
his own daughter, in his own court, gave princely education to Moses, their deliverer, 
did not God laugh ? 

Short is the joy of the wicked. Is Dagon put up to his place again ? God s 
smile shall take off his head and his hands, and leave him neither wit to guide nor 

power to subsist We may not judge of God s works until the fifth act : the 

case, deplorable and desperate in outward appearance, may with one smile from 
heaven find a blessed issue. He permitted his temple to be sacked and rifled, the 
holy vessels to be profaned and caroused in ; but did not God s smile make Bel- 
shazzar to tremble at the handwriting on the wall ? Oh, what are his frowns, if 
his smiles be so terrible ! Thomas Adams. 

Verse 4. The expression, " He that sitteth in the heavens," at once fixes our 
thoughts on a being infinitely exalted above man, who is of the earth, earthly. 
And when it is said, " HE shall laugh," this word is designed to convey to our minds 
the idea, that the greatest confederacies amongst kings and peoples, and their 
most extensive and vigorous preparations, to defeat HIS purposes or to injure HIS 
servants, are in HIS sight altogether insignificant and worthless. HE looks upon 
their poor and puny efforts, not only without uneasiness or fear, but HE laughs at 
their folly ; HE treats their impotency with derision. He knows how HE can crush 
them like a moth when HE pleases, or consume them in a moment with the breath 
of HIS mouth. How profitable it is for us to be reminded of truths such as these I 
Ah 1 it is indeed " a yam thing " for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the 
glorious Majesty of Heaven. David Pitcairn. 

Verse 4. " The Lord," in Hebrew, Adonai, mystically signifieth my stays, or 
my sustainers my pillars. Our English word " Lord " hath much the same force, 
being contracted of the old Saxon word " Llaford," or " Hlafford," which cometh 
from " Laef," to sustain, refresh, cherish. Henry Ainsworth. 

Verse 4. " He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh at them : the Lord shall have 
them in derision." This tautology or repetition of the same thing, which is frequent 
in the Scriptures, is a sign of the thing being established : according to the authority 
of the patriarch Joseph (Gen. xli. 32), where, having interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh 
he said, " And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice ; it is because 
the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass." And there 
fore, here also, " shall laugh at them," and " shall have them in derision," is a repetition 
to show that there is not a doubt to be entertained that all these things will most 
surely come to pass. And the gracious Spirit does all this for our comfort and 
consolation, that we may not faint under temptation, but lift up our heads with 
the most certain hope ; because " he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." 
Hebrews x. 37. Martin Luther. 

Verse 5. " Vex them ; " either by horror of conscience, or corporal plagues ; 
one way or the other he will have his pennyworths of them, as he always has had 
of the persecutors of his people. John Trapp. 


Verses 5, 9. It is easy for God to destroy his foes Behold Pharaoh, his 

wise men, his hosts, and his horses plouting and plunging, and sinking like lead 
in the Red sea. Here is the end of one of the greatest plots ever formed against 
God s chosen. Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces, and others 
high in office, -who distinguished themselves by their zeal and bitterness in persecuting 
the early Christians, one became speedily deranged after some atrocious cruelty, 
one was slain by his own son, one became blind, the eyes of one started out of his head, 
one was drowned, one was strangled, one died in a miserable captivity, one fell 
dead in a manner that will not bear recital, one died of so loathsome a disease that 
several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench 
that filled his room, two committed suicide, a third attempted it, but had to call 
for help to finish the work, five were assassinated by their own people or servants, 
five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths, several of them having 
an untold complication of diseases, and eight were killed in battle, or after being 
taken prisoners. Among these was Julian the apostate. In the days of his pros 
perity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven defying the Son of God, whom 
he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle, he saw 
that all was over with him, and he gathered up his clotted blood, and threw it into 
the air, exclaiming, " Thou hast conquered, O thou Galilean." Voltaire has told 
us of the agonies of Charles IX. of France, which drove the blood through the pores 
of the skin of that miserable monarch, after his cruelties and treachery to the 
Huguenots. William S. Plummer, D.D., LL.D., 1867. 

Verse 6. " Yet have I set my King." Notice 1. The royal office and character 
of our glorious Redeemer : he is a King, " This name he hath on his vesture and 
on his thigh." Rev. xix. 16. 2. The authority by which he reigns ; he is " my King," 
says God the Father, and I have set him up from everlasting : " The Father judgeth 
no man ; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." The world disowns 
his authority, but I own it ; I have set him, I have " given him to be head over all 
things to the church." 3. His particular kingdom over which he rules ; it is over 
" my holy hill of Zion " an eminent type of the gospel church. The temple was 
built upon Mount Zion and therefore called a holy hill. Christ s throne is in his 
church, it is his head-quarters, and the place of his peculiar residence. Notice the 
firmness of the divine purpose with respect unto this matter. " Yet have I set " 
him " King ; " i.e., whatever be the plots of hell and earth to the contrary, he reigns 
by his Father s ordination. Stephen Charnock, 1628 1680. 

Verse 6. " Yet have I set my KING," etc. Jesus Christ is a threefold King. 
First, his enemies King ; secondly, his saints King ; thirdly, his Father s King. 

First. Christ is his enemies King, that is, he is King over his enemies. Christ 
is a King above all kings. What are all the mighty men, the great, the honourable 
men of the earth to Jesus Christ ? They are but like a little bubble in the water ; 
for if all the nations, in comparison to God, be but as the drop of the bucket, or 
the dust of the balance, as the prophet speaks in Isaiah xl. 15, how little then must 
be the kings of the earth 1 Nay, beloved, Christ Jesus is not only higher than kings, 
but he is higher than the angels ; yea, he is the head of angels ; and, therefore, all 

the angels in heaven are commanded to worship him. Col. ii. 12 Heb. i. 6 He 

is King over all kingdoms, over all nations, over all governments, over all powers, 

over all people Dan. vii. 14 The very heathen are given to Christ, and the 

uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. Psalm ii. 8. 

Secondly. Jesus Christ is his saints King. He is King of the bad, and of the 
good ; but as for the wicked, he rules over them by his power and might ; but the 
saints, he rules in them by his Spirit and graces. Oh I this is Christ s spiritual 
kingdom, and here he rules in the hearts of his people, here he rules over their con 
sciences, over their wills, over their affections, over their judgments and under 
standings, and nobody hath anything to do here but Christ. Christ is not only 
the King of nations, but the King of saints ; the one he rules over, the other he 
rules in. 

Thirdly. Jesus Christ is his Father s King too, and so his Father calls him : " / 
have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." Well may he be our King, when he is 
God s King. But you may say, how is Christ the Father s King ? Because he 
rules for his Father. There is a twofold kingdom of God committed to Jesus Christ ; 
first, a spiritual kingdom, by which he rules in the hearts of his people, and so is 
King of saints ; and, secondly, a providential kingdom, by which he rules the affairs 


of this world, and so he is King of nations. Condensed from William Dyer s Christ s 
Famous Titles, 1665. 

Verse 6. " Zion." The name " Zion " signifies a " distant view " (speculum.) 
And the church is called " a distant view " (specula), not only because it views 
God and heavenly things by faith (that is, afar off), being wise unto the things that 
are above, not unto those that are on the earth : but also, because there are within 
her true viewers, or seers, and watchmen in the spirit, whose office it is to take 
charge of the people under them, and to watch against the snares of enemies and 
sins ; and such are called in the Greek bishops ( eirlffKotroi), that is, spyers or seers ; 
and you may for the same reason give them, from the Hebrew, the appellation of 
Zionians of Zioners. Martin Luther. 

Verse 7. The dispute concerning the eternal filiation of our Lord betrays more 
of presumptuous curiosity than of reverent faith. It is an attempt to explain 
where it is far better to adore. We could give rival expositions of this verse, but 
we forbear. The controversy is one of the most unprofitable which ever engaged 
the pens of theologians. C. H. S. 

Verse 8. " Ask of me." The priesthood doth not appear to be settled upon 
Christ by any other expression than this, " Ask of me." The Psalm speaks of his 
investiture in his kingly office ; the apostle refers this to his priesthood, his com 
mission, for both took date at the same time ; both bestowed, both confirmed by 
the same authority. The office of asking is grounded upon the same authority as 
the honour of king. Ruling belonged to his royal office, asking to his priestly. 
After his resurrection, the Father gives him a power and command of asking. 
Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 8. As the limner looks on the person whose picture he would take, and 
draws his lines to answer him with the nearest similitude that he can, so God looks 
on Christ as the archetype to which he will conform the saint, in suffering, in grace, 
in glory ; yet so that Christ hath the pre-eminence in all. Every saint must suffer, 
because Christ suffered : Christ must not have a delicate body under a crucified 
head ; yet never any suffered, or could, what he endured. Christ is holy, and 
therefore so shall every saint be, but in an inferior degree ; an image cut in clay 
cannot be so exact as that engraved on gold. Now, our conformity to Christ appears, 
that as the promises made to him were performed upon his prayers to his Father, 
his promises made to his saints are given to them in the same way of prayer : " Ask 
of me," saith God to his Son, " and / shall give thee." And the apostle tells us, 
" Ye have not, because ye ask not." God hath promised support to Christ in all 
his conflicts. Isaiah xlii. 1. " Behold my servant, whom I uphold ; " yet he prayed 
" with strong cries and tears," when his feet stood within the shadow of death. A 
seed is promised to him, and victory over his enemies, yet for both these he prays. 
Christ towards us acts as a king, but towards his Father as a priest. All he speaks 
to God is by prayer and intercession. So the saints, the promise makes them kings 
over their lusts, conquerors over their enemies ; but it makes them priests towards 
God, by prayer humbly to sue out those great things given in the promise. William 
Gurnall, 16171679. 

Verse 8. It will be observed in our Bible that two words of verse eight are in 
italics, intimating that they are not translations of the Hebrew, but additions made 
for the purpose of elucidating the meaning. Now if the " thee " and the " for " are 
left out, the verse will read thus, " Ask of me, and I shall give the heathen, thine 
inheritance, and thy possession, the uttermost parts of the earth." And this reading 
is decidedly preferable to the other. It implies thai by some previous arrangement 
on the part of God, he had already assigned an inheritance of the heathen, and the 
possession of the earth, to the person of whom he says, " Thou art my Son." And 
when God says, " I will give," etc., he reveals to his Anointed, not so much in what 
the inheritance consisted, and what was the extent of possession destined for him, 
as the promise of his readiness to bestow it. The heathen were already " the in 
heritance," and the ends of the earth " the possession," which God had purposed 
to give to his Anointed. Now he says to him, " Ask of me," and he promises to fulfil 
his purpose. This is the idea involved in the words of the text, and the importance 
of it will become more apparent, when we consider its application to the spiritual 
David, to the true Son of God, " whom he hath appointed the heir of alJ 



Verne 9. The " rod " has a variety of meanings in Scripture. It might be of 
different materials, as it was employed for different purposes. At an early period, 
a wooden rod came into use as one of the insignia of royalty, under the name of 
sceptre. By degrees the sceptre grew in importance, and was regarded as character 
istic of an empire, or of the reign of some particular king. A golden sceptre denoted 
wealth and pomp. The right, or straight sceptre of vhich we read in Psalm xlv. 6, 
is expressive of the justice and uprightness, the truth and equity, which shall dis 
tinguish Messiah s reign, after his kingdom on earth has been established. But 
when it is said in Rev. xix. 15, that he, " whose name is called the Word of God," 
will smite the nations, and " rule them with a rod of iron," if the rod signifies " his 
sceptre," then the " iron " of which it is made must be designed to express the 
severity of the judgments which this omnipotent " King of kings " will inflict on 
all who resist his authority. But to me it appears doubtful whether the " rod of 
iron " symbolizes the royal sceptre of the Son of God at his second advent. It is 
mentioned in connection with " a sharp sword," which leads me to prefer the opinion 
that it also ought to be regarded as a weapon of war ; at all events, the " rod of 
iron " mentioned in the Psalm we are endeavouring to explain, is evidently not 
the emblem of sovereign power, although represented as in the hands of a king, 
but an instrument of correction and punishment. In this sense the word " rod " 

is often used When the correcting rod, which usually was a wand 

or cane, is represented, as in the second Psalm, to be of " iron " it only indicates 
how weighty, how severe, how effectual the threatened chastisement will be it 
will not merely bruise, but it will break. " Thou shall break them with a rod of iron." 

Now it is just such a complete breaking as would not readily be effected excepting 
Dy an iron rod, that is more fully expressed in the following clause of the verse, 
" Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter s vessel." The completeness of the 
destruction, however, depends on two things. Even an iron rod if gently used, 
or used against a hard and firm substance, might cause little injury ; but, in the 
case before us, it is supposed to be applied with great force, " Thou shalt dash them ; " 
and it is applied to what will prove as brittle and frangible as " a potter s vessel "- 

" Thou shalt dash them in pieces." Here, as is other respects, we must feel 

that the predictions and promises of this Psalm were but very partially fulfilled 
in the history of the literal David. Their real accomplishment, their awful com 
pletion, abides the day when the spiritual David shall come in glory and in majesty 
as Zion s King, with a rod of iron to dash in pieces the great antichristian confederacy 
of kings and peoples, and to take possession of his long-promised and dearly-pur 
chased inheritance. And the signs of the times seem to indicate that the coming 
of the Lord draws nigh. David Pitcairn 

Verse 10. " Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings," etc. As Jesus is King of kings 
and Judge of judges, so the gospel is the teacher of the greatest and wisest. If 
any are so great as to spurn its admonitions, God will make little of them ; and if 
they are so wise as to despise its teachings, their fancied wisdom shall make fools 
of them. The gospel takes a high tone before the rulers of the earth, and they who 
preach it should, like Knox and Melville, magnify their office by bold rebukes and 
manly utterances even in the royal presence. A clerical sycophant is only fit to be 
a scullion in the devil s kitchen. G. H. S. 

Verse 11. " Serve the Lord with fear." This fear of God qualifies our joy. If 
you abstract fear from joy, joy will become light and wanton ; and if you abstract 
joy from fear, fear then will become slavish. William Bates, D.D., 1625 1699. 

Verse 11. " Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling." There are 
two kinds of serving and rejoicing in God. First, a serving in security, and a re 
joicing in the Lord without fear ; these are peculiar to hypocrites, who are secure, 
who please themselves, and who appear to themselves to be not unuseful servants, 
and to have great merit on their side, concerning whom it is said (Psalm x. 5), " Thy 
judgments are far above out of his sight ; " and also afterwards (Psalm xxxvi. 1), 
" There is no fear of God before his eyes." These do righteousness without judgment 
at all times ; and permit not Christ to be the Judge to be feared by all, in whose 
sight no man living is justified. Secondly, a serving with fear and a rejoicing with 
trembling ; these are peculiar to the righteous who do righteousness at all times, 
and always rightly attemper both ; never being without judgments, on the one 
hand, by which they are terrified and brought to despair of themselves and of all 


their own works ; nor without that righteousness, on the other, on which they rest, 
and in which they rejoice in the mercy of God. It is the work of the whole lives of 
these characters to accuse themselves in all things, and in all things to justify and 
praise God. And thus they fulfil that word of Proverbs, " Blessed is the man that 
feareth alway " (xxviii. 14) ; and also that of Philip, iv. 4, " Rejoice in the Lord 
alway." Thus, between the upper and nether mill-stone (Deut. xxiv. 6), they are 
broken in pieces and humbled, and the husks thus being bruised off, they come 
forth the all-pure wheat of Christ. Martin Luther. 

Verse 11. The fear of God promotes spiritual joy ; it is the morning star which 
ushers in the sunlight of comfort. " Walking in the fear of God, and in the comfort 
of the Holy Ghost." God mingles joy with fear, that fear may not be slavish. 
Thomas Watson, 1660. 

Verse 12. " Kiss," a sign of love among equals : Gen. xxxiii. 4 ; 1 Sam. xx. 
41 ; Rom. xvi. 16 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 20. Of subjection in inferiors : 1 Sam. x. 1. Of 
religious adoration in worshippers : 1 Kings xix. 18 ; Job xxxi. 27. John Richardson, 
Bishop of Ardagh, 1655. 

Verse 12. " Kiss the Son, lest he be angry." From the Person, the Son, we 
shall pass to the act (Osculamini, kiss the Son) ; in which we shall see, that since 
this is an act which licentious men have depraved (carnal men do it, and treacherous 
men do it Judas betrayed his Master by a kiss), and yet God commands this, and 
expresses love in this ; everything that hath, or may be abused, must not therefore 
be abandoned ; the turning of a thing out of the way, is not a taking of that thing 
away, but good things deflected to ill uses by some, may be by others reduced to 
their first goodness. Then let us consider and magnify the goodness of God, that 
hath brought us into this distance, that we may kiss the Son, that the expressing of 
this love lies in our hands, and that, whereas the love of the church, in the Old Testa 
ment, even in the Canticle, went no farther but to the Osculatur me (O that he would 
kiss me with the kisses of his mouth ! Cant. i. 1), now, in the Christian church, and 
in the visitation of a Christian soul, he hath invited us, enabled us to kiss him, for 
he is presentially amongst us. This leads us to give an earnest persuasion and 
exhortation to kiss the Son, with all those affections, which we shall there find to 
be expressed in the Scriptures, in that testimony of true love, a holy kiss. But then 
lest that persuasion by love should not be effectual and powerful enough to us, we 
shall descend from that duty, to the danger, from love, to fear, " lest he be angry ;" 
and therein see first, that God, who is love, can be angry ; and then, that this God 
who is angry here, is the Son of God, he that hath done so much for us, and there 
fore in justice may be angry ; he that is our Judge, and therefore in reason we are 
to fear his anger : and then, in a third branch, we shall see how easily this anger 
departs a kiss removes it. 

Verse 12. " Kiss the Son." That is, embrace him, depend upon him all these 
ways : as thy kinsman, as thy sovereign ; at thy going, at thy coming ; at thy 
reconciliation, in the truth of religion in thyself, in a peaceable unity with the church, 
in a reverent estimation of those men, and those means whom he sends. Kiss him, 
and be not ashamed of kissing him ; it is that which the spouse desired, " I would 
kiss thee, and not be despised." Cant. vii. 1. If thou be despised for loving Christ 
in his gospel, remember that when David was thought base, for dancing before 
the ark, his way was to be more base. If thou be thought frivolous for thrusting 
in at service, in the forenoon, be more frivolous, aud come again in the afternoon : 
" Ton/o major requies, quanto ab amore Jesu nulla requies ; " * " The more thou 
troublest thyself, or art troubled by others for Christ, the more peace thou hast in 

Christ." " Lest he be angry." Anger, as it is a passion that troubles, and 

disorders, and discomposes a man, so it is not in God ; but anger, as it is a sensible 
discerning of foes from friends, and of things that conduce, or disconduce to his 
glory, so it is in God. In a word, Hilary hath expressed it well : " Psena patientis, 
ira decernentis ; " " Man s suffering is God s anger." When God inflicts such 
punishments as a king justly incensed would do, then God is thus angry. Now 
here, our case is heavier ; it is not this great, and almighty, and majestical God, 
that may be angry that is like enough ; but even the Son, whom we must kiss, 
may be angry ; it is not a person whom we consider merely as God, but as man ; 
nay, not as man neither, but a worm, and no man, and he may be angry, and angry 

* Gregory 


to our ruin " Kiss the Son," and he will not be angry ; if he be, kiss 

the rod, and he will be angry no longer love him lest he be ; fear him when he is 
angry : the preservative is easy, and so is the restorative too : the balsamum of 
this kiss is all, to suck spiritual milk out of the left breast, as well as out of the right, 
to find mercy in his judgments, reparation in his ruins, feasts in his lents, joy in his 
anger. From Sermons of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul s, 1621 1631. 

Verse 12. " Kiss the Son." To make peace with the Father, kiss the Son. 
" Let him kiss me," was the church s prayer. Cant. i. 2. Let us kiss him that 
be our endeavour. Indeed, the Son must first kiss us by his mercy, before we can 
kiss him by our piety. Lord, grant in these mutual kisses and interchangeable 
embraces now, that we may come to the plenary wedding supper hereafter ; when 
the choir of heaven, even the voices of angels, shall sing epithalamiums, nuptial 
songs, at the bridal of the spouse of the Lamb. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 12. " // his wrath be kindled but a little ; " the Hebrew is, if his nose or 
nostril be kindled but a little ; the nostril, being an organ of the body in which 
wrath shows itself, is put for wrath itself. Paleness and snuffling of the nose are 
symptoms of anger. In our proverbials, to take a thing in snuff, is to take it in 
anger. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 12. " His wrath." Unspeakable must the wrath of God be when it is 
kindled fully, since perdition may come upon the kindling of it but a liltle. John 


Whole Psalm. Shows us the nature of sin, and the terrible results of it if it 
could reign. 

Verse 1. Nothing is more irrational than irreligion. A weighty theme. 

The reasons why sinners rebel against God, stated, refuted, lamented, and re 
pented of. 

The crowning display of human sin in man s hatred of the Mediator. 

Verses 1 and 2. Opposition to the gospel, unreasonable and ineffectual. Two 
sermons by John Newton. 

Verses 1 and 2. These verses show that all trust in man in the service of God 
is vain. Inasmuch as men oppose Christ, it is not good to hang our trust upon the 
multitude for their number, the earnest for their zeal, the mighty for their countenance, 
or the wise for their counsel, since all these are far oftener against Christ than for 

Verse 2. " Spurgeon s Sermons," No. 495, " The Greatest Trial on Record." 

Verse 3. The true reason of the opposition of sinners to Christ s truth, viz. : 
their hatred of the restraints of godliness. 

Verse 4. God s derision of the rebellious, both now and hereafter. 

Verse 5. The voice of wrath. One of a series of sermons upon the voices of the 
divine attributes. 

Verse 6. Christ s sovereignty. 1. The opposition to it : " yet." 2. The cer 
tainty of its existence : " Yet have I set." 3. The power which maintains it : " have 
I set." 4. The place of its manifestation : " my holy hill of Z ion." 5. The blessings 
flowing from it. 

Verse 7. The divine decree concerning Christ, in connection with the decrees 
of election and providence. The Sonship of Jesus. 

This verse teacheth us faithfully to declare, and humbly to claim, the gifts and 
calling that God hath bestowed upon us. Thomas Wilcocks. 

Verse 8. Christ s inheritance. William Jay. 

Prayer indispensable. Jesus must ask. 

Verse 9. The ruin of the wicked. Certain, irresistible, terrible, complete, irre 
trievable, " like a potter s vessel." 

The destruction of systems of error and oppression to be expected. The gospel 
an iron rod quite able to break mere pots of man s making. 

Verse 10. True wisdom, fit for kings and judges, lies in obeying Christ. 


The gospel, a school for those who would learn how to rule and judge well. They 
may consider its principles, its exemplar, its spirit, etc. 

Verse 11. Mingled experience. See the case of the women returning from the 
sepulchre. Matt, xxviii. 8. This may be rendered a very comforting subject, 
if the Holy Spirit direct the mind of the preacher. 

True religion, a compound of many virtues and emotions. 

Verse 12. An earnest invitation. 1. The command. 2. The argument. 3. The 
benediction upon the obedient. " Spurgeon s Sermons," No. 260. 

Last clause. Nature, object, and blessedness of saving faith. 


TITLE. " A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his Son." You will 
remember the sad story of David s flight from his own palace, when, in the dead of 
the night, he forded the brook Kedron, and went with a few faithful followers to hide 
himself for awhile from the fury of his rebellious son. Remember that David in this 
was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, too, fled ; he, too, passed over the brook 
Kedron when his own people were in rebellion against him, and with a feeble band of 
followers he went to the garden of Gethsemane. He, too, drank of the brook by the 
way, and therefore doth he lift up the head. By very many expositors this is entitled 
THE MORNING HYMN. May we ever wake with holy confidence in our hearts, and a 
song upon our lips ! 

DIVISION. This Psalm may be divided into four parts of two verses each. Indeed, 
many of the Psalms cannot be well understood unless we attentively regard the parts 
into which they are to be divided. They are not continuous descriptions of one scene, 
but a set of pictures of many kindred subjects. As in our modern sermons, we divide 
our discourse into different heads, so it is in these Psalms. There is always unity, 
but it is the unity of a bundle of arrows, and not of a single solitary shaft. Let us now 
look at the Psalm before us. In the first two verses you have David making a com 
plaint to God concerning his enemies ; he then declares his confidence in the Lord 
(3, 4), sings of his safety in sleep (5, 6), and strengthens himself for future conflict 
(7. 8). 


LORD, how are they increased that trouble me ! many are they that rise 
up against me. 

2 Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. 

The poor broken-hearted father complains of the multitude of his enemies, 
and if you turn to 2 Samuel xv. 12, you will find it written that " the conspiracy 
was strong ; for the people increased continually with Absalom," while the troops 
of David constantly diminished ! " Lord how are they increased that trouble me ! " 
Here is a note of exclamation to express the wonder of woe which amazed and per 
plexed the fugitive father. Alas I I see no limit to my misery, for my troubles are 
enlarged I There was enough at first to sink me very low ; but lo ! my enemies 
multiply. When Absalom, my darling, is in rebellion against me, it is enough to 
break my heart ; but lo ! Ahithophel hath forsaken me, my faithful counsellors 
have turned their backs on me ; lo ! my generals and soldiers have deserted my 
standard. " How are they increased that trouble me ! " Troubles always come 
in flocks. Sorrow hath a numerous family. 

" Many are they that rise up against me." Their hosts are far superior to mine 1 
Their numbers are too great for my reckoning I 

Let us here recall to our memory the innumerable hosts which beset our Divine 
Redeemer. The legions of our sins, the armies of fiends, the crowd of bodily pains, 
the host of spiritual sorrows, and all the allies of death and hell, set themselves 
in battle against the Son of Man. O how precious to know and believe that he has 
routed their hosts, and trodden them down in his anger I They who would have 
troubled us he has removed into captivity, and those who would have risen up 
against us he has laid low. The dragon lost his sting when he dashed it into the 
soul of Jesus. 

David complains fcefore his loving God of the worst weapon of his enemies 
attacks, and the bitterest drop of his distresses. " Oh ! " saith David, " many 
there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in God." Some of his distrustful 
friends said this sorrowfully, but his enemies exultingly boasted of it, and longed 
to see their words proved by his total destruction. This was the unkindest cut of 
all, when they declared that his God had forsaken him. Yet David knew in his 
own conscience that he had given them some ground for this exclamation, for he 
had committed sin against God in the very light of day. Then they flung his crime 


with Bathsheba into his face, and they said, " Go up, thou bloody man ; God hath 
forsaken thee and left thee." Shimei cursed him and swore at him to his very face, 
for he was bold because of his backers, since multitudes of the men of Belial thought 
of David in like fashion. Doubtless, David felt this infernal suggestion to be 
staggering to his faith. If all the trials which come from heaven, all the temptations 
which ascend from hell, and all the crosses which arise from earth, could be mixed 
and pressed together, they would not make a trial so terrible as that which is con 
tained in this verse. It is the most bitter of all afflictions to be led to fear that there 
is no help for us in God. And yet remember our most blessed Saviour had to endure 
this in the deepest degree when he cried, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken 
me ? " He knew full well what it was to walk in darkness and to see no light. This 
was the curse of the curse. This was the wormwood mingled with the gall. To be 
deserted of his Father was worse than to be the despised of men. Surely we should 
love him who suffered this bitterest of temptations and trials for our sake. It will 
be a delightful and instructive exercise for the loving heart to mark the Lord in his 
agonies as here portrayed, for there is here, and in very many other Psalms, far 
more of David s Lord than of David himself. 

" Selah." This is a musical pause ; the precise meaning of which is not known. 
Some think it simply a rest, a pause in the music ; others say it means, " Lift up 
the strain sing more loudly pitch the tune upon a higher key there is nobler 
matter to come, therefore retune your harps." Harp-strings soon get out of order 
and need to be screwed up again to their proper tightness, and certainly our heart 
strings are evermore getting out of tune. Let " Selah " teach us to pray 

" O may my heart in tune be found 
Like David s harp of solemn sound." 

At least, we may learn that wherever we see " Selah," we should look upon it as a 
note of observation. Let us read the passage which precedes and succeeds it with 
greater earnestness, for surely there is always something excellent where we are 
required to rest and pause and meditate, or when we are required to lift up our 
hearts in grateful song. " SELAH." 

3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me ; my glory, and the lifter up of 
mine head. 

4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy 
hill. Selah. 

Here David avows his confidence in God. " Thou, Lord, art a shield for me." 
The word in the original signifies more than a shield ; it means a buckler round 
about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, 
around, without and within. Oh ! what a shield is God for his people I He wards 
off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, 
at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast. Thou art 
" my glory." David knew that though he was driven from his capital in contempt 
and scorn, he should yet return in triumph, and by faith he looks upon God as 
honouring and glorifying him. O for grace to see our future glory amid present 
shame ! Indeed, there is a present glory in our afflictions, if we could but discern 
it ; for it is no mean thing to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. David 
was honoured when he made the ascent of Olivet, weeping, with his head covered ; 
for he was in all this made like unto his Lord. May we learn, in this respect, to 
glory in tribulations also 1 " And the lifter up of mine head " thou shalt yet exalt 
me. Though I hang my head in sorrow, I shall very soon lift it up in joy and thanks 
giving. What a divine trio of mercies is contained in this verse ! defence for the 
defenceless, glory for the despised, and joy for the comfortless. Verily we may 
well say, " There is none like the God of Jeshurun." 

" / cried unto the Lord with my voice." Why doth he say, " with my voice ? " 
Surely, silent prayers are heard. Yes, but good men often find that, even in secret, 
they pray better aloud than they do when they utter no vocal sound. Perhaps, 
moreover, David would think thus : " My cruel enemies clamour against me ; 
they lift up their voices, and, behold, 7 lift up mine, and my cry outsoars them all. 
They clamour, but the cry of my voice in great distress pierces the very skies, and 
is louder and stronger than all their tumult ; for there is one in the sanctuary who 


hearkens to me from the seventh heaven, and he hath heard me out of his holy hill. " 
Answers to prayers are sweet cordials for the soul. We need not fear a frowning 
world while we rejoice in a prayer-hearing God. 

Here stands another Selah. Rest awhile, O tried believer, and change the strain 
to a softer air. 

5 I laid me down and slept ; I awaked ; for the LORD sustained me. 

6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves 
against me round about. 

David s faith enabled him to lie down ; anxiety would certainly have kept him 
on tiptoe, watching for an enemy. Yea, he was able to sleep, to sleep in the midst of 
trouble, surrounded by foes. " So he giveth his beloved sleep." There is a sleep 
of presumption ; God deliver us from it I There is a sleep of holy confidence ; God 
help us so to close our eyes ! But David says he awaked also. Some sleep the 
sleep of death ; but he, though exposed to many enemies, reclined his head on the 
bosom of his God, slept happily beneath the wing of Providence in sweet security, 
and then awoke in safety. " For the Lord sustained me." The sweet influence of 
the Pleiades of promise shone upon the sleeper, and he awoke conscious that the 
Lord had preserved him. An excellent divine has well remarked " This quietude 
of a man s heart by faith in God, is a higher sort of work than the natural resolution 
of manly courage, for it is the gracious operation of God s Holy Spirit upholding a 
man above nature, and therefore the Lord must have all the glory of it." 

Buckling on his harness for the day s battle, our hero sings, " / will not be afraid 
of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about." Observe 
that he does not attempt to under-estimate the number or wisdom of his enemies. 
He reckons them at tens of thousands, and he views them as cunning huntsmen 
chasing him with cruel skill. Yet he trembles not, but looking his foeman in the 
face he is ready for the battle. There may be no way of escape ; they may hem 
me in as the deer are surrounded by a circle of hunters ; they may surround me on 
every side, but in the name of God I will dash through them ; or, if I remain in the 
midst of them, yet shall they not hurt me ; I shall be free in my very prison. 

But David is too wise to venture to the battle without prayer ; he therefore 
betakes himself to his knees, and cries aloud to Jehovah. 

7 Arise, O LORD ; save me, O my God : for thou hast smitten all mine 
enemies upon the cheek bone ; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly. 

His only hope is in his God, but that is so strong a confidence, that he feels the 
Lord hath but to arise and he is saved. It is enough for the Lord to stand up, and 
all is well. He compares his enemies to wild beasts, and he declares that God hath 
broken their jaws, so that they could not injure him ; " Thou hast broken the teeth of 
the ungodly." Or else he alludes to the peculiar temptations to which he was then 
exposed. They had spoken against him ; God, therefore, has smitten them upon 
the cheek bone. They seemed as if they would devour him with their mouths; God 
hath broken their teeth, and let them say what they will, their toothless jaws 
shall not be able to devour him. Rejoice, O believer, thou hast to do with a dragon 
whose head is broken, and with enemies whose teeth are dashed from their jaws 1 

8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD : thy blessing is upon thy people. 

This verse contains the sum and substance of Calvinistic doctrine. Search 
Scripture through, and you must, if you read it with a candid mind, be persuaded 
that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is the great doctrine of the word of 
God : " Saluation belongeth unto the Lord." This is a point concerning which we 
are daily fighting. Our opponents say, " Salvation belongeth to the free will of 
man ; if not to man s merit, yet at least to man s will ; " but we hold and teach 
that salvation from first to last, in every iota of it, belongs to the Most High God. It 
is God that chooses his people. He calls them by his grace ; he quickens them 
by his Spirit, and keeps them by his power. It is not of man, neither by man ; 
" not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." 
May we all learn this truth experimentally, for our proud flesh and blood will never 
permit us to learn it in any other way. In the last sentence the peculiarity and 


speciality of salvation are plainly stated : " Thy blessing is upon thy people." 
Neither upon Egypt, nor upon Tyre, nor upon Nineveh ; thy blessing is upon thy 
chosen, thy blood-bought, thine everlastingly-beloved people. " Selah : " lift up 
your hearts, and pause, and meditate upon this doctrine. " Thy blessing is upon 
thy people." Divine, discriminating, distinguishing, eternal, infinite, immutable 
love, is a subject for constant adoration. Pause my soul, at this Selah, and consider 
thine own interest in the salvation of God ; and if by humble faith thou art enabled 
to see Jesus as thine by his own free gift of himself to thee, if this greatest of all 
blessings be upon thee, rise up and sing 

" Rise, my soul ! adore and wonder I 

Ask, O why such love to me ? 
Grace hath put me in the number 
Of the Saviour s family : 

Hallelujah ! 
Thanks, eternal thanks to thee." 


Title. With regard to the authority of the TITLES, it becomes us to speak with 
diffidence, considering the very opposite opinions which have been offered upon 
this subject by scholars of equal excellence. In the present day, it is too much the 
custom to slight or omit them altogether, as though added, nobody knows when or 
by whom, and as, in many instances, inconsistent with the subject-matter of the 
Psalm itself : while Augustine, Theodoret, and various other early writers of the 
Christian church, regard them as a part of the inspired text ; and the Jews still 
continue to make them a part of their chant, and their rabbins to comment upon 

It is certainly unknown who invented or olaced them where they are : but 
it is unquestionable that they nave been so placed from time immemorial ; they 
occur in the Septuagint, which contains also in a few instances titles to Psalms that 
are without any in the Hebrew ; and they have been copied after the Septuagint by 
Jerome. So far as the present writer has been able to penetrate the obscurity that 
occasionally hangs over them, they are a direct and most valuable key to the general 
history or subject of the Psalms to which they are prefixed ; and, excepting where 
they have been evidently misunderstood or misinterpreted, he has never met with a 
single instance in which the drift of the title and its respective Psalm do not exactly 
coincide. Many of them were, doubtless, composed by Ezra at the time of editing 
his own collection, at which period some critics suppose the whole to have been 
written ; but the rest appear rather to be coeval, or nearly so, with the respective 
Psalms themselves, and to have been written about the period of their production. 
John Mason Good, M.D., F.R.S., 1854- 

See title. Here we have the first use of the word Psalm. In Hebrew, Mizmor, 
which hath the signification of pruning, or cutting off superfluous twigs, and is 
applied to songs made of short sentences, where many superfluous words are put 
away. Henry Ainsworth. 

Upon this note an old writer remarks, " Let us learn from this, that in times of, 
sore trouble men will not fetch a compass and use fine words in prayer, but will offer 
a prayer which is pruned of all luxuriance of wordy speeches." 

Whole Psalm. Thus you may plainly see how God hath wrought in his church 
in old time, and therefore should not discourage yourselves for any sudden change ; 
but with David, acknowledge your sins to God, declare unto him how many there 
be that vex you and rise up against you, naming you Huguenots, Lutherans, Heretics, 
Puritans, and the children of Belial, as they named David. Let the wicked idolaters 
brag that they will prevail against you and overcome you, and that God hath given 
you over, and will be no more your God. Let them put their trust in Absalom, with 
his large golden locks ; and in the wisdom of Ahithophel, the wise counsellor ; yet 


say you, with David, " Thou, Lord, art my defender, and the lifter up of my head." 
Persuade yourselves, with David, that the Lord is your defender, who hath com 
passed you round about, and is, as it were, a " shield " that doth cover you on every 
side. It is he only that may and will compass you about with glory and honour. 
It is he that will thrust down those proud hypocrites from their seat, and exalt the 
lowly and meek. It is he which will " smite " your " enemies on the cheek bone," 
and burst all their teeth in sunder. He will hang up Absalom by his own long hairs ; 
and Ahithophel through desperation shall hang himself. The bands shall be broken 
and you delivered ; for this belongeth unto the Lord, to save his from their enemies, 
and to bless his people, that they may safely proceed in their pilgrimage to heaven 
without fear. Thomas Tijmme s " Silver Watch Bell," 1634. 

Verse 1. Absalom s faction, like a snowball, strangely gathered in its motion. 
David speaks of it as one amazed ; and well he might, that a people he had so many 
ways obliged, should almost generally revolt from him, and rebel against him, and 
choose for their head such a silly, giddy young fellow as Absalom was. How slippery 
and deceitful are the many 1 And how little fidelity and constancy is to be found 
among men ! David had had the hearts of his subjects as much as ever any king 
had, and yet now of a sudden he had lost them ! As people must not trust too much 
to princes (Psalm cxlvi. 3), so princes must not build too much upon their interest 
in the people. Christ the Son of David had many enemies, when a great multitude 
came to seize him, when the crowd cried, " Crucify him, crucify him," how were 
they then increased that troubled him ! Even good people must not think it 
strange if the stream be against them, and the powers that threaten them grow 
more and more formidable. Matthew Henry. 

Verse 2. When the believer questions the power of God, or his interest in 
it, his joy gusheth out as blood out of a broken vein. This verse is a sore stab 
indeed. William Gurnall. 

Verse 2. A child of God startles at the very thought of despairing of help in 
God ; you cannot vex him with anything so much as if you offer to persuade him, 
" There is no help for him in God." David comes to God, and tells him what his 
enemies said of him, as Hezekiah spread Rabshakeh s blasphemous letter before 
the Lord ; they say, " There is no help for me in thee ; " but, Lord, if it be so, I am 
undone. They say to my soul, " There is no salvation " (for so the word is) " for 
him in God ; " but, Lord, do thou say unto my soul, " / am thy salvation " (Psalm 
xxxv. 3), and that shall satisfy me, and in due time silence them. Matthew Henry. 

Verses 2, 4, 8. " Selah n~!9. Much has been written on this word, and still 
its meaning does not appear to be wholly determined. It is rendered in the Targum 
or Chaldee paraphrase, pcH S lealmin, for ever, or to eternity. In the Latin Vulgate, 
it is omitted, as if it were no part of the text. In the Septuagint it is rendered Aid^aXytto, 
supposed to refer to some variation or modulation of the voice in singing. 
Schleusner, Lex. The word occurs seventy-three times in the Psalms, and three 
times in the book of Habakkuk (iii. 3, 9, 13). It is never translated in our version, 
but in all these places the original word Selah is retained. It occurs only in poetry, 
and is supposed to have had some reference to the singing or cantillation of poetry, 
and to be probably a musical term. In general, also, it indicates a pause in the 
sense, as well as in the musical performance. Gesenius (Lex.) supposes that the 
most probable meaning of this musical term or note is silence or pause, and that 
its use was, in chanting the words of the Psalm, to direct the singer to be silent, to 
pause a little, while the instruments played an interlude or harmony. Perhaps 
this is all that can now be known of the meaning of the word, and this is enough to 
satisfy every reasonable enquiry. It is probable, if this was the use of the term, 
that it would commonly correspond with the sense of the passage, and be inserted 
where the sense made a pause suitable ; and this will doubtless be found usually 
to be the fact. But any one acquainted at all with the character of musical notation 
will perceive at once that we are not to suppose that this would be invariably or 
necessarily the fact, for the musical pauses by no means always correspond with 
pauses in the sense. This word, therefore, can furnish very little assistance in deter 
mining the meaning of the passages where it is found. Ewald supposes, differing 
from this view, that it rather indicates that in the places where it occurs the voice 
is to be raised, and that it is synonymous with up, higher, loud, or distinct, from ">p f 


sal, ty salal, to ascend. Those who are disposed to enquire further respecting its 
meaning, and the uses of musical pauses in general, may be referred to Ugolin, 
" Thesau. Antiq. Sacr.," torn. xxii. Albert Barnes, 1868. 

Verses 2, 4, 8. Selah, rbg, is found seventy-three times in the Psalms, generally 
at the end of a sentence or paragraph ; but in Psalm Iv. 19 and Ivii. 3, it stands in 
the middle of the verse. While most authors have agreed in considering this word 
as somehow relating to the music, their conjectures about its precise meaning have 
varied greatly. But at present these two opinions chiefly obtain. Some, including 
Herder, De Wette, Ewald (Poet Biicher, i. 179), and Delitzsch, derive it from ,-^D, or 
y?p, to raise and understand an elevation of the voice or music ; others, after Gesenius, 
in Thesaurus, derive it from n^p, to be still or silent, and understand a pause in the 
singing. So Rosenmiiller, Hengstenberg, and Tholuck. Probably selah was used 
to direct the singer to be silent, or to pause a little, while the instruments played 
an interlude (so Sept., Sid^dX/m) or symphony. In Psalm ix. 16, it occurs in the 
expression higgaion selah, which Gesenius, with much probability, renders instru 
mental, pause ; i.e., let the instruments strike up a symphony, and let the singer 
pause. By Tholuck and Hengstenberg, however, the two words are rendered 
meditation, pause ; i.e., let the singer meditate while the music stops. Benjamin 
Davis, Ph.D., LL.D., article Psalms, in Kitto s Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. 

Verse 3. " Lifter up of my head." God will have the body partake with the 
soul as in matters of grief, so in matters of joy ; the lanthorn shines in the light 
of the candle within. Richard Sibbs, 1639. 

There is a lifting up of the head by elevation to office, as with Pharaoh s butler ; 
this we trace to the divine appointment. There is a lifting up in honour after shame, 
in health after sickness, in gladness after sorrow, in restoration after a fall, in victory 
after a temporary defeat ; in all these respects the Lord is the lifter up of our 
head. C. H. S. 

Verse 4. When prayer leads the van, in due time deliverance brings up the 
rear. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 4. " He heard me." I have often heard persons say in prayer, " Thou 
art a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God," but the expression contains a 
superfluity, since for God to hear is, according to Scripture, the same thing as to 
answer. C. H. S. 

Verse 5. " / laid me down and slept ; I awaked : for the Lord sustained me." 
The title of the Psalm tells us when David had this sweet night s rest ; not when 
he lay on his bed of down in his stately palace at Jerusalem, but when he fled for 
his life from his unnatural son Absalom, and possibly was forced to lie in the open 
field under the canopy of heaven. Truly it must be a soft pillow indeed that could 
make him forget his danger, who then had such a disloyal army at his back hunting 
of him ; yea, so transcendent is the influence of this peace, that it can make the 
creature lie down as cheerfully to sleep in the grave, as on the softest bed. You 
will say that child is willing that calls to be put to bed ; some of the saints have 
desired God to lay them at rest in their beds of dust, and that not in a pet and dis 
content with their present trouble, as Job did, but from a sweet sense of this peace 
in their bosoms. " Now let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy 
salvation," was the swan-like song of old Simeon. He speaks like a merchant that 
had got all his goods on ship-board, and now desires the master of the ship to hoist 
sail, and be gone homewards. Indeed, what should a Christian, that is but a foreigner 
here, desire to stay any longer for in the world, but to get his full lading in for heaven ? 
And when hath he that, if not when he is assured of his peace with God ? This 
peace of the gospel, and sense of the love of God in the soul, doth so admirably 
conduce to the enabling of a person in all difficulties, and temptations, and troubles, 
that ordinarily, before he calls his saints to any hard service, or hot work, he gives 
them a draught ot this cordial wine next their hearts, to cheer them up and embolden 
them in the conflict. William Gurnall. 

Verse 5. Gurnall, who wrote when there were houses on old London Bridge, 
has quaintly said, " Do you not think that they sleep as soundly who dwell on 
London Bridge as they who live at Whitehall or Cheapside ? for they know that 
the waves which rush under them cannot hurt them. Even so may the saints rest 
quietly over the floods or trouble or death, and fear no ill." 


Verse 5. Xerxes, the Persian, when he destroyed all the temples in Greece, 
caused the temple of Diana to be preserved for its beautiful structure : that soul 
which hath the beauty or holiness shining in it, shall be preserved for the glory of 
the structure ; God will not suffer his own temple to be destroyed. Would you 
be secured in evil times ? Get grace and fortify this garrison ; a good conscience 
is a Christian s fort-royal. David s enemies lay round about him ; yet saith he, 
" I laid me down and slept." A good conscience can sleep in the mouth of a cannon ; 
grace is a Christian s coat of mail, which fears not the arrow or bullet. True grace 
may be shot at, but can never be shot through ; grace puts the soul into Christ, 
and there it is safe, as the bee in the hive, as the dove in the ark. " There is no 
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Rom. viii. 1. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 5. " The Lord sustained me." It would not be unprofitable to consider 
the sustaining power manifested in us while we lie asleep. In the flowing of the 
blood, heaving of the lung, etc., in the body and the continuance of mental faculties 
while the image of death is upon us. C. H. S. 

Verse 6. " 7 will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves 
against me round about." The psalmist will trust, despite appearances. He will not 
be afraid though ten thousands of people have set themselves against him round 
about. Let us here limit our thoughts to this one idea, " despite appearances." 
What could look worse to human sight than this array of ten thousands of people ? 
Ruin seemed to stare him in the face ; wherever he looked an enemy was to be 
seen. What was one against ten thousand ? It often happens that God s people 
come into circumstances like this ; they say, " All these things are against me ; " 
they seem scarce able to count their troubles ; they cannot see a loophole through 
which to escape ; things look very black indeed ; it is great faith and trust which 
says under these circumstances " I will not be afraid." 

These were the circumstances under which Luther was placed, as he journeyed 
towards Worms. His friend Spalatin heard it said, by the enemies of the Reforma 
tion, that the safe conduct of a heretic ought not to be respected, and became alarmed 
for the reformer. " At the moment when the latter was approaching the city, a 
messenger appeared before him with this advice from the chaplin, Do not enter 
Worms 1 And this from his best friend, the elector s confidant, from Spalatin 

himself 1 But Luther, undismayed, turned his eyes upon the messenger, and 

replied, Go and tell your master, that even should there be as many devils in Worms 
as tiles upon the housetops, still I would enter it. The messenger returned to 
Worms, with this astounding answer : I was then undaunted, said Luther, a few 
days before his death, I feared nothing. " 

At such seasons as these, the reasonable men of the world, those who walk by 
sight and not by faith, will think it reasonable enough that the Christian should 
be afraid ; they themselves would be very low if they were in such a predicament. 
Weak believers are now ready to make excuses for us, and we are only too ready 
to make them for ourselves ; instead of rising above the weakness of the flesh, we 
take refuge under it, and use it as an excuse. But let us think prayerfully for a 
little while, and we shall see that it should not be thus with us. To trust only when 
appearances are favourable, is to sail only with the wind and tide, to believe only 
when we can see. Oh ! let us follow the example of the psalmist, and seek that un- 
reservedness of faith which will enable us to trust God, come what will, and to say 
as he said, " / will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves 
against me round about." Philip Bennett Power s I wills of the Psalms, 1862. 

Verse 6. " 7 will not be afraid," etc. It makes no matter what our enemies be, 
though for number, legions ; for power, principalities ; for subtilty, serpents ; for 
cruelty, dragons ; for vantage of place, a prince of the air ; for maliciousness, 
spiritual wickedness ; stronger is he that is in us, than they who are against 
us ; nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. In Christ Jesus our Lord, 
we shall be more than conquerors. William Cowper, 1612. 

Verse 7. " Arise, Lord," Jehovah 1 This is a common scriptural mode of 
calling upon God to manifest his presence and his power, either in wrath or favour. 
By a natural anthropomorphism, it describes the intervals of such manifestation 
as periods of inaction or of slumber, out of which he is besought to rouse himself. 
" Save me," even me, of whom they say there is no help for him in God. " Save me, 
my God," mine by covenant and mutual engagement, to whom I therefore have a 


right to look for deliverance and protection. This confidence is warranted, moreover, 
by experience. " For thou hast," in former exigencies, " smitten all mine enemies," 
without exception " (on the) cheek " or jaw, an act at once violent and insulting. 
J. A. Alexander, D.D. 

Verse 7. " Upon the cheek bone." The language seems to be taken from a 
comparison of his enemies with wild beasts. The cheek bone denotes the bone in 
which the teeth are placed, and to break that is to disarm the animal. Albert Barnes, 
in loc. 

Verse 7. When God takes vengeance upon the ungodly, he will smite in such 
a manner as to make them feel his almightiness in every stroke. All his power 
shall be exercised in punishing and none in pitying. O that every obstinate sinner 
would think of this, and consider his unmeasurable boldness in thinking himself 
able to grapple with Omnipotence ! Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 8. " Salvation belongeth unto the Lord : " parallel passage in Jonah ii. 9, 
" Salvation is of the Lord." The mariners might have written upon their ship, 
instead of Castor and Pollux, or the like device, Salvation is the Lord s ; the Ninevites 
might have written upon their gates, Salvation is the Lord s ; and whole mankind, 
whose cause is pitted and pleaded by God against the hardness of Jonah s heart, 
in the last, might have written on the palms of their hands, Salvation is the Lord s. 
It is the argument of both the Testaments, the staff and supportation of heaven 
and earth. They would both sink, and all their joints be severed, if the salvation 
of the Lord were not. The birds in the air sing no other notes, the beasts in the 
field give no other voice, than Salus Jehovse, Salvation is the Lord s. The walls 
and fortresses to our country s gates, to our cities and towns, bars to our houses, 
a surer cover to our heads than a helmet of steel, a better receipt to our bodies than 
the confection of apothecaries, a better receipt to our souls than the pardons of 
Rome, is Salus Jehovse, the salvation of the Lord. The Salvation of the Lord blesseth, 
preserveth, upholdeth all that we have ; our basket and our store, the oil in our 
cruses, our presses, the sheep in our fold, our stalls, the children in the womb, at our 
tables, the corn in our field, our stores, our garners ; it is not the virtue of the stars, 
nor nature of all things themselves, that giveth being and continuance to any of 
these blessings. And, " What shall I more say? " as the apostle asked (Heb. xi.), 
when he had spoken much, and there was much more behind, but time failed him. 
Rather, what should I not say ? for the world is my theatre at this time, and I 
neither think nor can feign to myself anything that hath not dependence upon this 
acclamation, Salvation is the Lord s. Plutarch writeth, that the Amphictions in 
Greece, a famous council assembled of twelve sundry people, wrote upon the temple 
of Apollo Pythius, instead of the Iliads of Homer, or songs of Pindarus (large and 
tiring discourses), short sentences and memoratives, as, Know thyself, Use modera 
tion, Beware of suretyship, and the like ; and doubtless though every creature in 
the world, whereof we have use, be a treatise and narration unto us of the goodness 
of God, and we might weary our flesh, and spend our days in writing books of that 
inexplicable subject, yet this short apothegm of Jonah comprehendeth all the rest, 
and standeth at the end of the song, as the altars and stones that the patriarch set 
up at the parting of the ways, to give knowledge to the after-world by what means 
he was delivered. I would it were daily preached in our temples, sung in our streets, 
written upon our door-posts, painted upon our walls, or rather cut with an adamant 
claw upon the tables of our hearts, that we might never forget salvation to be the 
Lord s. We have need of such remembrances to keep us in practice of revolving 
the mercies of God. For nothing decayeth sooner than love : nihil facilius quam 
amor putrescit. And of all the powers of the soul, memory is most delicate, tender, 
and brittle, and first waxeth old, memoria delicata, tenera, fragilis, in quam primum 
senectus incurrit ; and of all the apprehensions of memory, first benefit primum 
senescit beneficium. John King s Commentary on Jonah, 1594. 

Verse 8. " Thy blessing is upon thy people." The saints are not only blessed 
when they are comprehensors, but while they are viators. They are blessed before 
they are crowned. This seems a paradox to flesh and blood : what, reproached 
and maligned, yet blessed I A man that looks upon the children of God with a 
carnal eye, and sees how they are afflicted, and like the ship in the gospel, which 
was covered with waves (Matt. viii. 24), would think they were far from blessedness. 
Paul brings a catalogue of his sufferings (2 Cor. xi. 24 26), " Thrice was I beaten 
with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck," etc. And those Christians 


of the first magnitude, of whom the world was not worthy, " Had trails of cruel 
mockings and scourgings, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword." 
Heb. xi. 36, 37. What ! and were all these during the time of their sufferings 
blessed ? A carnal man would think, if this be to be blessed, God deliver him from 
it. But, however sense would give their vote, our Saviour Christ pronounceth the 
godly man blessed ; though a mourner, though a martyr, yet blessed. Job on the 
dunghill was blessed Job. The saints are blessed when they are cursed. Shimei 
did curse David (2 Samuel xvi. 5), " He came forth and cursed him ; " yet when he 
was cursed David he was blessed David. The saints though they are bruised, yet 
they are blessed. Not only they shall be blessed, but they are so. Psalm cxix. 1. 
" Blessed are the undefiled." Psalm iii. 8. " Thy blessing is upon thy people." 
Thome." Watson. 

As a curious instance of Luther s dogmatical interpretations, we give very considerable 
extracts from his rendering of this Psalm without in any degree endorsing them. 
C. H. S. 

Whole Psalm. That the meaning of this Psalm is not historical, is manifest 
from many particulars, which militate agninst its being so understood. And first 
of all, there is this which the blessed Augustine has remarked ; that the words, 
" I laid me down to sleep and took my rest," seem to be the words of Christ rising 
from the dead. And then that there is at the end the blessing of God pronounced 
upon the people, which manifestly belongs to the whole church. Hence, the blessed 
Augustine interprets the Psalm in a threefold way : first, concerning Christ the 
head ; secondly concerning the whole of Christ, that is, Christ and his church, the 
head and the body ; and thirdly, figuratively, concerning any private Christian. 
Let each have his own interpretation. I, in the meantime, will interpret it con 
cerning Christ ; being moved so to do by the same argument that moved Augustine 
that the fifth verse does not seem appropriately to apply to any other but Christ. 
First, because, " lying down " and " sleeping," signify in this place altogether a 
natural death, not a natural sleep. Which may be collected from this because 
it then follows, " and rose again." Whereas if David had spoken concerning the 
sleep of the body, he would have said, " and awoke ; " though this does not make 
so forcibly for the interpretation of which we are speaking, if the Hebrew word be 
closely examined. But again, what new thing would he advance by declaring that 
he laid him down and slept ? Why did he not say also that he walked, ate, drank, 
laboured, or was in necessity, or mention particularly some other work of the body ? 
And moreover, it seems an absurdity under so great a tribulation, to boast of nothing 
else but the sleep of the body ; for that tribulation would rather force him to a 
privation from sleep, and to be in peril and distress ; especially since those two 
expressions, " I laid me down," and " I slept," signify the quiet repose of one lying 
down in his place, which is not the state of one who falls asleep from exhausture 
through sorrow. But this consideration makes the more forcibly for us that he 
therefore glories in his rising up again because it was the Lord that sustained him, 
who raised him up while sleeping, and did not leave him in sleep. How can such a 
glorying agree, and what new kind of religion can make it agree, with any particular 
sleep of the body ? (for in that case, would it not apply to the daily sleep also ?) and 
especially, when this sustaining of God indicates at the same time an utterly forsaken 
state in the person sleeping, which is not the case in corporal sleep ; for there the 
person sleeping may be protected even by men being his guards ; but this sustaining 
being altogether of God, implies, not a sleep, but a heavy conflict/ And lastly, the 
word HEKIZOTHI itself favours such an interpretation ; which, being here put 
absolutely and transitively, signifies, " I caused to arise or awake." As if he had 
said, " I caused myself to awake, I roused myself." Which certainly more aptly 
agrees with the resurrection of Christ than with the sleep of the body ; both because 
those who are asleep are accustomed to be roused and awaked, and because it is 
no wonderful matter, nor a matter worthy of so important a declaration, for any 
one to awake of himself, seeing that it is what takes place every day. But this 
matter being introduced by the Spirit as a something new and singular, is certainly 
different from all that which attends common sleeping and waking. 


Verse 2. " There is no help for him. in his God." In the Hebrew the expression 
is simply, " in God," without the pronoun " his," which seems to me to give clearness 
and force to the expression. As if he had said, They say of me that I am not only 
deserted and oppressed by all creatures, but that even God, who is present with all 
things, and preserves all things, and protects all things, forsakes me as the only 
thing out of the whole universe that he does not preserve. Which kind of temptation 
Job seems also to have tasted where he says, " Why hast thou set me as a mark 
against thee ? " vii. 20. For there is no temptation, no, not of the whole world 
together, nor of all hell combined in one, equal unto that wherein God stands contrary 
to a man, which temptation Jeremiah prays against (xvii. 17), " Be not a terror 
unto me ; thou art my hope in the day of evil ; " and concerning which also the 
sixth Psalm following saith, " O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger ; " and we find 
the same petitions throughout the psaltery. This temptation is wholly unsupport- 
able, and is truly hell itself ; as it is said in the same sixth Psalm, " for in death 
there is no remembrance of thee," etc. In a word, if you have never experienced 
it, you can never form any idea of it whatever. 

Verse 3. " For thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my 
head." David here contrasts three things with three ; helper, with many troubling ; 
glory, with many rising up ; and the lifter up of the head, with the blaspheming 
and insulting. Therefore, the person here represented is indeed alone in the estima 
tion of man, and even according to his own feelings also ; but in the sight of God, 
and in a spiritual view, he is by no means alone ; but protected with the greatest 
abundance of help ; as Christ saith (John xvi. 32), " Behold, the hour cometh when 
ye shall leave me alone ; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." 

The words contained in this verse are not the words of nature, but of 

grace ; not of free-will, but of the spirit of strong faith ; which, even though seeing 
God, as in the darkness of the storm of death and hell, a deserting God, acknowledges 
him a sustaining God ; when seeing him as a persecuting God, acknowledges him a 
helping God ; when seeing him as a condemner, acknowledges him a Saviour. Thus 
this faith does not judge of things according as they seem to be, or are felt, like a 
horse or mule which have no understanding ; but it understands things which are 
not seen, for " hope that is seen is not hope : for what a man seeth, why doth he yet 
hope tor ? " Romans viii. 24. 

Verse 4. " / cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy 
hill." In the Hebrew, the verb is in the future, and is, as Hieronymus translates 
it, " I will cry," and, " he shall hear ; " and this pleases me better than the perfect 
tense ; for they are the words of one triumphing in, and praising and glorifying 
God, and giving thanks unto him who sustained, preserved, and lifted him up, 
according as he had hoped in the preceding verse. For it is usual with those that 
triumph and rejoice, to speak of those things which they have done and suffered, 
and to sing a song of praise unto their helper and deliverer ; as in Psalm Ixvi. 16, 
" Come, then, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my 
soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue." 
And also Psalm Ixxxi. 1, " Sing aloud unto God our strength." And so again, 
Exodus xv. 1, " Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously." And 
so here, being filled with an overflowing sense of gratitude and joy, he sings of his 
being dead, of his having slept and rose up again, of his enemies being smitten, and of 
the teeth of the ungodly being broken. This it is which causes the change ; for he 
who hitherto had been addressing God in the second person, changes on a sudden 
his address to others concerning God, in the third person, saying, " and he heard 
me," not " and thou heardest me ; " and also, " / cried unto the Lord," not " I 
cried unto thee," for he wants to make all know what benefits God has heaped 
upon him ; which is peculiar to a grateful mind. 

Verse 5. " / laid me down and slept ; I awaked ; for the Lord sustained me." 

Christ, by the words of this verse signifies his death and burial For it 

is not to be supposed that he would have spoken so importantly concerning mere 
natural rest and sleep ; especially since that which precedes, and that which follows, 
compel us to understand him as speaking of a deep conflict and a glorious victory 
over his enemies. By all which things he stirs us up and animates us to faith in 
God, and commends unto us the power and grace of God ; that he is able to raise 
us up from the dead ; an example of which he sets before us, and proclaims it unto us 

as wrought in himself And this is shown also farther in his using 

gentle words, and such as tend wonderfully to lessen the terror of death. " / laid 


me down (saith he), and slept." He does not say, I died and was buried ; for death 
and the tomb had lost both their name and their power. And now death is not 
death, but a sleep ; and the tomb not a tomb, but a bed and resting place ; 
which was the reason why the words of this prophecy were put somewhat obscurely 
and doubtfully, that it might by that means render death most lovely in our eyes 
(or rather most contemptible), as being that state from which, as from the sweet 
rest of sleep, an undoubted arising and awaking are promised. For who is not most 
sure of an awaking and arising, who lies down to rest in a sweet sleep (where death 
does not prevent) ? This person, however, does not say that he died, but that he 
laid him down to sleep, and that therefore he awaked. And moreover, as sleep is 
useful and necessary for a better renewal of the powers of the body (as Ambrosius 
says in his hymn), and as sleep relieves the weary limbs, so is death also equally 
useful, and ordained for the arriving at a better life. And this is what David says 
in the following Psalm, " I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest, for thou, 
Lord, in a singular manner hast formed me in hope." Therefore, in considering 
death, we are not so much to consider death itself, as that most certain life and 
resurrection which are sure to those who are in Christ ; that those words (John 
viii. 51) might be fulfilled, " If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death." 
But how is it that he shall never see it ? Shall he not feel it ? Shall he not die ? 
No 1 he shall only see sleep, for, having the eyes of his faith fixed upon the resurrec 
tion, he so glides through death, that he does not even see death ; for death, as I 
have said, is to him no death at all. And hence, there is that also of John xi. 25, 
" He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." 

Verse 7. " For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone ; thou. hast 
broken the teeth of the ungodly." Hieronymus uses this metaphor of " cheek bones," 
and " teeth," to represent cutting words, detractions, calumnies, and other injuries 
of the same kind, by which the innocent are oppressed : according to that of Pro 
verbs xxx. 14, " There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw- 
teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among 
men." It was by these that Christ was devoured, when, before Pilate he was con 
demned to the cross by the voices and accusations of his enemies. And hence it is 
that the apostle saith (Gal. v. 15), " But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed 
that ye be not consumed one of another." 

Verse 8. " Salvation is of the Lord, and thy blessing is upon thy people." A 
most beautiful conclusion this, and, as it were, the sum of all the feelings spoken 
of. The sense is, it is the Lord alone that saves and blesses : and even though the 
whole mass of all evils should be gathered together in one against a man, still, it is 
the Lord who saves : salvation and blessing are in his hands. What then shall I 
fear ? What shall I not promise myself ? When I know that no one can be de 
stroyed, no one reviled, without the permission of God, even though all should rise 
up to curse and to destroy ; and that no one of them can be blessed and saved with 
out the permission of God, how much soever they may bless and strive to save 
themselves. And as Gregory Nazianzen says, " Where God gives, envy can avail 
nothing ; and where God does not give labour can avail nothing." And in the 
same way also Paul saith (Rom. viii. 31), " If God be for us, who can be against 
us ? " And so, on the contrary, if God be against them, who can be for them ? 
And why ? Because " salvation is of the Lord," and not of them, nor of us, for 
" vain is the help of man." Martin Luther. 


Verse 1." The saint telling his griefs to his God. (!) His right to do so. (2) The 
proper manner of telling them. (3) The fair results of such holy communications 
with the Lord. 

When may we expect increased troubles ? Why are they sent ? What is our 
wisdom in reference to them ? 

Verse 2. The lie against the saint and the libel upon his God. 

Verse 3. The threefold blessing which God affords to his suffering ones 
Defence, Honour, Joy. Show how all these may be enjoyed by faith, even in 
our worst estate. 


Verse 4. (1) In dangers we should pray. (2) God will graciously hear. (3) We 
should record his answers of grace. (4) We may strengthen ourselves for the future 
by remembering the deliverances of the past. 

Verse 5. (1) Describe sweet sleeping. (2) Describe happy waking. (3) Show 
how both are to be enjoyed, " for the Lord sustained me." 

Verse 6. Faith surrounded by enemies and yet triumphant. 

Verse 7. (1) Describe the Lord s past dealing with his enemies ; " thou hast." 

(2) Show that the Lord should be our constant resort, " O Lord," " O my God." 

(3) Enlarge upon the fact that the Lord is to be stirred up : " Arise." (4) Urge 
believers to use the Lord s past victories as an argument with which to prevail with 

Verse 7 (last clause). Our enemies vanquished foes, toothless lions. 

Verse 8 (first clause). Salvation of God from first to last. (See the exposition). 

Verse 8 (last clause). They were blessed in Christ, through Christ, and shall be 
blessed with Christ. The blessing rests upon their persons, comforts, trials, labours, 
families, etc. It flows from grace, is enjoyed by faith, and is insured by oath, etc. 
Jamts Smith s Portions, 18021862. 


TITLE. This Psalm is apparently intended to accompany the third, and make 
a pair with it. If the last may be entitled THE MORNING PSALM, this from its matter 
is equally deserving of the title of THE EVENING HYMN. May the choice words of the 
8th verse be our sweet song of rest as we retire to our repose ! 

" Thus with my thoughts composed to peace, 

I ll give mine eyes to sleep ; 
Thy hand in safety keeps my days. 
And will my slumbers keep." 

The Inspired title runs thus : " To the chief Musician on Neginoth, a Psalm of 
David." The chief musician was the master or director of the sacred music of the 
sanctuary. Concerning this person carefully read 1 Chron.\i. 31, 32; xv. 16 22; xxv. 
1,7. In these passages will be found much that is interesting to the lover of sacred 
song, and very much that will throw a light upon the mode of praising God in the temple. 
Some of the titles of the Psalms are, we doubt not, derived from the names of certain 
renowned singers, who composed the music to which they were set. 

On Neginoth, that is, on stringed instruments, or hand instruments, which were 
played on with the hand alone, as harps and cymbals. The joy of the Jewish church 
was so great that they needed music to set forth the delightful feelings of their souls, 
our holy mirth is none the less overflowing because we prefer to express it in a more 
spiritual manner, as becometh a more spiritual dispensation. In allusion to these 
instruments to be played on with the hand, Nazianzen says. "Lord I am an instrument 
for thee to touch." Let us lay ourselves open to the Spirit s touch, so shall we make 
melody. May we be full of faith and love, and we shall be living instruments of music. 

Hawker says " The Septuagint read the word which we have rendered in our transla 
tion chief musician Lamenetz, instead of Lamenetzoth, the meaning of which is unto 
the end." From whence the Greek and Latin fathers imagined, that all psalms which 
bear this inscription refer to the Messiah the great end. // so, this Psalm is addressed 
to Christ ; and well it may, for it is all of Christ, and spoken by Christ, and hath respect 
only to his people as being one with Christ. The Lord the Spirit give the reader to 
see this, and he will find it most blessed. 

DIVISION. In the first verse David pleads with God for help. In the second he 
expostulates with his enemies, and continues to address them to the end of verse 5. Then 
from verse 6 to the close he delightfully contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with 
the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate. The Psalm was most probably written 
upon the same occasion as the preceding, and is another choice flower from the garden 
of affliction. Happy is it for us that David was tried, or orooably we should never have 
heard these sweet sonnets of faith. 


ILJEAR me when I call, O God of my righteousness : thou hast enlarged 
* me when I was in distress ; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. 

This is another instance of David s common habit of pleading past mercies as a 
ground for present favour. Here he reviews his Ebenezers and takes comfort from 
them. It is not to be imagined that he who has helped us in six troubles will leave 
us in the seventh. God does nothing by halves, and he will never cease to help 
us until we cease to need. The manna shall fall every morning until we cross the 

Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should 
all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He 
who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men. 

The name by which the Lord is here addressed, " God of my righteousness," 
deserves notice, since it is not used in any other part of Scripture. It means, Thou 
art the author, the witness, the maintainer, the judge, and the rewarder of my 
righteousness ; to thee I appeal from the calumnies and harsh judgments of men. 
Herein is wisdom, let us imitate it and always take our suit, not to the petty courts 
of human opinion, but into the superior court, the King s Bench of heaven. 


" Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." A figure taken from an army 
enclosed in a defile, and hardly pressed by the surrounding enemy. God hath 
dashed down the rocks and given me room ; he hath broken the barriers and set 
me in a large place. Or, we may understand it thus : " God hath enlarged my 
heart with joy and comfort when I was like a man imprisoned by grief and sorrow." 
God is a never-failing comforter. 

" Have mercy upon me." Though thou mayest justly permit my enemies to 
destroy me, on account of my many and great sins, yet I flee to thy mercy, and I 
beseech thee hear my prayer, and bring thy servant out of his troubles. The bst 
of men need mercy as truly as the worst of men. All the deliverances of saints, 
as well as the pardons of sinners, are the free gifts of heavenly grace. 

2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame ? how long 
will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing ? Selah. 

In this second division of the Psalm, we are led from the closet of prayer into 
the field of conflict. Remark the undaunted courage of the man of God. He allows 
that his enemies are great men (for such is the import of the Hebrew words translated 
sons of men), but still he believes them to be foolish men, and therefore chides 
them, as though they were but children. He tells them that they love vanity, and 
seek after leasing, that is, lying, empty fancies, vam conceits, wicked fabrications. 
He asks them how long they mean to make his honour a jest, and his fame a 
mockery ? A little of such mirth is too much, why need they continue to indulge 
in it ? Had they not been long enough upon the watch for his halting ? Had 
not repeated disappointments convinced them that the Lord s anointed was not 
to be overcome by all their calumnies ? Did they mean to jest their souls into 
hell, and go on with their laughter until swift vengeance should turn their merriment 
into howling ? In the contemplation of their perverse continuance in their vain 
and lying pursuits, the Psalmist solemnly pauses and inserts a Selah. Surely we 
too may stop awhile, and meditate upon the deep-seated folly of the wicked, their 
continuance in evil, and their sure destruction ; and we may learn to admire that 
grace which has made us to differ, and taught us to love truth, and seek after 

3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself : 
the LORD will hear when I call unto him. 

" But know." Fools will not learn, and therefore they must again and again 
be told the same thing, especially when it is such a bitter truth which is to be taught 
them, viz : the fact that the godly are the chosen of God, and are, by distinguishing 
grace, set apart and separated from among men. Election is a doctrine which un- 
renewed men cannot endure, but nevertheless, it is a glorious and well-attested 
truth, and one which should comfort the tempted believer. Election is the guarantee 
of complete salvation, and an argument for success at the throne of grace. HE who 
chose us for himself will surely hear our prayers. The Lord s elect shall not be con 
demned, nor shall their cry be unheard. David was king by divine decree, and 
we are the Lord s people in the same manner ; let us tell our enemies to their faces, 
that they fight against God and destiny, when they strive to overthrow our souls. 
O beloved, when you are on your knees, the fact of your being set apart as God s 
own peculiar treasure, should give you courage and inspire you with fervency and 
faith. " Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him ? " 
Since he chose to love us he cannot but chose to hear us. 

4 Stand in awe, and sin not : commune with your own heart upon your 
bed, and be still. Selah. 

" Tremble and sin not." How many reverse this counsel and sin but tremble not. 
O that men would take the advice of this verse and commune with their own hearts. 
Surely a want of thought must be one reason why men are so mad as to despite 
Christ and hate their own mercies. O that for once their passions would be quiet 
and let them be still, that so in solemn silence they might review the past, and 
meditate upon their inevitable doom. Surely a thinking man might have enough 
sense to discover the vanity of sin and the worthlessness of the world. Stay, rash 
sinner, stay ere thou take the last leap. Go to thy bed and think upon thy ways. 


Ask counsel of thy pillow, and let the quietude of night instruct thee 1 Throw not 
away thy soul for nought ! Let reason speak ! Let the clamorous world be still 
awhile, and let thy poor soul plead with thee to bethink thyself before thou seal its 
fate, and ruin it for ever ! Selah. O sinner I pause while I question thee awhile 
in the words of a sacred poet, 

" Sinner, is thy heart at rest ? 

Is thy bosom void of fear ? 
Art thou not by guilt oppress d ? 
Speaks not conscience in thine car ? 

Can this world afford thee bliss ? 

Can it chase away thy gloom ? 
Flattering, false, and vain it is ; 

Tremble at the worldling s doom ! 

Think, O sinner, on thy end, 

See the judgment-day appear. 
Thither must thy spirit wend, 

There thy righteous sentence hear. 

Wretched, ruin d, helpless soul, 

To a Saviour s blood apply ; 
He alone can make thee whole, 

Fly to Jesus, sinner, fly ! " 

5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. 

Provided that the rebels had obeyed the voice of the last verse, they would now 
be crying, " What shall we do to be saved?" And in the present verse, they 
are pointed to the sacrifice, and exhorted to trust in the Lord. When the Jew offered 
sacrifice righteously, that is, in a spiritual manner, he thereby set forth the Redeemer, 
the great sin-atoning Lamb ; there is, therefore, the full gospel in this exhortation 
of the Psalmist. O sinners, flee ye to the sacrifices of Calvary, and there put your 
whole confidence and trust, for he who died for men is the LORD JEHOVAH. 

6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good ? LORD, lift thou 
up the light of thy countenance upon us. 

We have now entered upon the third division of the Psalm, in which the faith 
of the afflicted one finds utterance in sweet expressions of contentment and peace. 

There were many, even among David s own followers, who wanted to see rather 
than to believe. Alas ! this is the tendency of us all 1 Even the regenerate some 
times groan after the sense and sight of prosperity, and are sad when darkness 
covers all good from view. As for worldlings, this is their unceasing cry. " Who 
will shew us any good ? " Never satisfied, their gaping mouths are turned in every 
direction, their empty hearts are ready to drink in any fine delusion which impostors 
may invent ; and when these fail, they soon yield to despair, and declare that there 
is no good thing in either heaven or earth. The true believer is a man of a very 
different mould. His face is not downward like the beasts , but upward like the 
angels . He drinks not from the muddy pools of Mammon, but from the fountain 
of life above. The light of God s countenance is enough for him. This is his riches, 
his honour, his health, his ambition, his ease. Give him this, and he will ask no 
more. This is joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Oh, for more of the indwelling 
of the Holy Spirit, that our fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ 
may be constant and abiding 1 

7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their 
corn and their wine increased. 

" It is better," said one, " to feel God s favour one hour in our repenting souls, 
than to sit whole ages under the warmest sunshine that this world affordeth." Christ 
in the heart is better than corn in the barn, or wine in the vat. Corn and wine are 
but fruits of the world, but the light of God s countenance is the ripe fruit of heaven. 
" Thou art with me," is a far more blessed cry than " Harvest home." Let my 
granary be empty, I am yet full of blessings if Jesus Christ smiles upon me ; but if 
I have all the world, I am poor without Him. 


We should not fail to remark that this verse is the saying of the righteous man, 
in opposition to the saying of the many. How quickly doth the tongue betray 
the character 1 " Speak, that I may see thee 1 " said Socrates to a fair boy. The 
metal of a bell is best known by its sound. Birds reveal their nature by their song. 
Owls cannot sing the carol of the lark, nor can the nightingale hoot like the owl. 
Let us, then, weigh and watch our words, lest our speech should prove us to be 
foreigners, and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. 

8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep : for thou, LORD, only makest 
me dwell in safety. 

Sweet Evening Hymn 1 I shall not sit up to watch through fear, but I will lie 
down ; and then I will not lie awake listening to every rustling sound, but I will lie 
down m peace and sleep, for I have nought to fear. He that hath the wings of God 
above him needs no other curtain. Better than bolts or bars is the protection of the 
Lord. Armed men kept the bed of Solomon, but we do not believe that he slept 
more soundly than his father, whose bed was the hard ground, and who was haunted 
by blood-thirsty foes. Note the word " only," which means that God alone was 
his keeper, and that though alone, without man s help, he was even then in good 
keeping, for he was " alone with God." A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. 
How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered 
minds. They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a 
promise ; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ. 

O Lord, give us this calm repose on thee, that like David we may lie down in 
peace, and sleep each night while we live ; and joyfully may we lie down in the 
appointed season, to sleep in death, to rest in God ! 

Dr. Hawker s reflection upon this Psalm is worthy to be prayed over and fed 
upon with sacred delight. We cannot help transcribing it. 

" Reader I let us never lose sight of the Lord Jesus while reading this psalm. 
He is the Lord our righteousness ; and therefore, in all our approaches to the mercy 
seat, let us go there in a language corresponding to this which calls Jesus the Lord 
our righteousness. While men of the world, from the world are seeking their chief 
good, let us desire his favour which infinitely transcends corn and wine, and all the 
good things which perish in the using. Yes, Lord, thy favour is better than life itself. 
Thou causest them that love thee to inherit substance, and fillest all their treasure. 

Oh 1 thou gracious God and Father, hast thou in such a wonderful manner 
set apart one in our nature for thyself ? Hast thou indeed chosen one out of the 
people ? Hast thou beheld him in the purity of his nature, as one in every point 
godly ? Hast thou given him as the covenant of the people ? And hast thou 
declared thyself well pleased in him ? Oh 1 then, well may my soul be well pleased 
in him also. Now do I know that my God and Father will hear me when I call upon 
him in Jesus name, and when 1 look up to him for acceptance for Jesus sake ? 
Yes, my heart is fixed, O Lord, my heart is fixed ; Jesus is my hope and righteous 
ness, the Lord will hear me when I call. And henceforth will I both lay me down 
in peace and sleep securely in Jesus, accepted in the Beloved ; for this is the rest 
wherewith the Lord causeth the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing. 


Verse l. " Hear me when I call," etc. Faith is a good orator and a noble dis- 
puter in a strait ; it can reason from God s readiness to hear : " Hear me when I 
call, God." And from the everlasting righteousness given to the man in the justi 
fication of his person : " God of my righteousness." And from God s constant 
justice in defending the righteousness of his servant s cause : " God of my righteous 
ness." And from both present distresses and those that are by-past, wherein he 
hath been, and from by-gone mercies received : " Thou hast enlarged me when I was 
in distress." And from God s grace, which is able to answer all objections from 
the man s unworthiness or ill-deserving : " Have mercy upon me, and hear my 
prayer." David Dickson, 1653. 

Verse I. " Hear me." The great Author of nature and of all things does nothing 


in vain. He instituted not this law, and, if I may so express it, art of praying, 
as a vain and insufficient thing, but endows it with wonderful efficacy for producing 
the greatest and happiest consequences. He would have it to be the key by which 
all the treasures of heaven should be opened. He has constructed it as a powerful 
machine, by which we may, with easy and pleasant labour, remove from us the 
most dire and unhappy machinations of our enemy, and may with equal ease draw 
to ourselves what is most propitious and advantageous. Heaven and earth, and 
all the elements, obey and minister to the hands which are often lifted up to heaven 
in earnest prayer. Yea, all works, and, which is yet more and greater, all the words 
of God obey it. Well known in the sacred Scriptures are the examples of Moses 
and Joshua, and that which James (v. 17) particularly mentions of Elijah, whom 
he expressly calls 8/j.oioTra.ety, a man subject to like infirmities with ourselves, that 
he might illustrate the admirable force of prayer, by the common and human weak 
ness of the person by whom it was offered. And that Christian legion under An 
toninus is well known and justly celebrated, which, for the singular ardour and efficacy 
of its prayers, obtained the name of Kepawop6\os, the thundering legion. Robert 
Leighton, D.D., Archbishop of Glasgow, 1611 1684. 

Verse 2. " O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame ? how 
long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing ? Selah." Prayer soars above the 
violence and impiety of men, and with a swift wing commits itself to heaven, with 
happy omen, if I may allude to what the learned tell us of the augury of the ancients, 
which I shall not minutely discuss. Fervent prayers stretch forth a strong, wide- 
extended wing, and while the birds of night hover beneath, they mount aloft, and 
point out, as it were, the proper seats to which we should aspire. For certainly 
there is nothing that cuts the air so swiftly, nothing that takes so sublime, so happy, 
and so auspicious a flight as prayer, which bears the soul on its pinions, and leaves 
far behind all the dangers, and even the delights of this low world of ours. Behold 
this holy man, who just before was crying to God in the midst of distress, and with 
argent importunity entreating that he might be heard, now, as if he were already 
possessed of all he had asked, taking upon him boldly to rebuke his enemies, how 
highly soever they were exalted, and how potent soever they might be even in the 
royal palace. Robert Leighton, D.D. 

Verse 2. " O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame ? " etc. 
We might imagine every syllable of this precious Psalm used by our Master some 
evening, when about to leave the temple for the day, and retiring to his wonted 
rest at Bethany (verse 8), after another fruitless expostulation with the men of 
Israel. And we may read it still as the very utterance of his heart, longing over 
man, and delighting in God. But further, not only is this the utterance of the 
Head, it is also the language of one of his members in full sympathy with him in 
holy feeling. This is a Psalm with which the righteous may make their dwellings 
resound, morning and evening, as they cast a sad look over a world that rejects 
God s grace. They may sing it while they cling more and more every day to Jehovah, 
as their all-sufficient heritage, now and in the age to come. They may sing it, too, 
in the happy confidence of faith and hope, when the evening of the world s day is 
coming, and may then fall asleep in the certainty of what shall greet their eyes on 
the resurrection morning 

" Sleeping embosomed in his grace, 
Till morning-shadows flee." 

Andrew A. Bonar, 1859. 

Verse 2. " Love Vanity." They that love sin, love vanity ; they chase a bubble, 
they lean upon a reed, their hope is as a spider s web. 

" Leasing." This is an old Saxon word signifying falsehood. 

Verse 2. " How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing ? " " Vanity 
of vanities, and all is vanity." This our first parents found, and therefore named 
their second son Abel, or vanity. Solomon, that had tried these things, and could 
best tell the vanity of them, he preacheth this sermon over again and again, 
" Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity." It is sad to think how many thousands 
there be that can say with the preacher, " Vanity of vanities, all is vanity;" nay, 
swear it, and yet follow after these things as if there were no other glory, nor felicity, 
but what is to be found in these things they call vanity. Such men will sell Christ, 
heaven, and their souls, for a trifle, that call these things vanity, but do not cordially 


believe them to be vanity, but set their hearts upon them as if they were their 
crown, the top of all their royalty and glory. Oh ! let your souls dwell upon the 
vanity of all things here below, till your hearts be so thoroughly convinced and 
persuaded of the vanity of them, as to trample upon them, and make them a foot 
stool for Christ to get up, and ride in a holy triumph in your hearts. 

Gilemex, king of Vandals, led in triumph by Belisarius, cried out, " Vanity of 
vanities, all is vanity." The fancy of Lucian, who placeth Charon on the top of a 
high hill, viewing all the affairs of men living, and looking on their greatest cities 
as little birds nests, is very pleasant. Oh, the imperfection, the ingratitude, the 
levity, the inconstancy, the perfidiousness of those creatures we most servilely 
affect I Ah, did we but weigh man s pain with his payment, his crosses with his 
mercies, his miseries with his pleasures, we should then see that there is nothing 
got by the bargain, and conclude, " Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Chrysostom 
said once, " That if he were the fittest in the world to preach a sermon to the whole 
world, gathered together in one congregation, and had some high mountain for his 
pulpit, from whence he might have a prospect of all the world in his view, and were 
furnished with a voice of brass, a voice as loud as the trumpets of the archangel, 
that all the world might hear him, he would choose to preach upon no other text 
than that in the Psalms, O mortal men, How long will ye love vanity, and follow 
after leasing ? "Thomas Brooks, 16081680. 

Verse 2. "Love Vanity." Men s affections are according to their principles; 
and every one loves that most without him which is most suitable to somewhat 
within him : liking is founded in likeness, and has therefore that word put upon it. 
It is so in whatsoever we can imagine ; whether in temporals or spirituals, as to the 
things of this life, or of a better. Men s love is according to some working and 
impression upon their own spirits. And so it is here in the point of vanity ; those 
which are vain persons, they delight in vain things ; as children, they love such 
matters as are most agreeable to their childish dispositions, and as do suit them 
in that particular. Out of the heart comes all kind of evil. Thomas Horton, 1675. 

Verse 3. " The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." When God 
chooseth a man, he chooseth him for himself ; for himself to converse with, to 
communicate himself unto him as a friend, a companion, and his delight. Now, 
it is holiness that makes us fit to live with the holy God for ever, since without it 
we cannot see him (Heb. xii. 14), which is God s main aim, and more than our being 
his children ; as one must be supposed a man, one of mankind, having a soul reason 
able, ere we can suppose him capable of adoption, or to be another man s heir. As 
therefore it was the main first design in God s eye, before the consideration of our 
happiness, let it be so in ours. Thomas Goodwin, 1600 1679. 

Verse 3. What rare persons the godly are : " The righteous is more excellent 
than his neighbour." Prov. xii. 26. As the flower of the sun, as the wine of Lebanon, 
as the sparkling upon Aaron s breastplate, such is the orient splendour of a person 

embellished with godliness The godly are precious, therefore they are set 

apart for God, " Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." We 
set apart things that are precious ; the godly are set apart as God s peculiar treasure 
(Psalm cxxxv. 4) ; as his garden of delight (Cant. iv. 12) ; as his royal diadem 
(Isaiah xliii. 3) ; the godly are the excellent of the earth (Psalm xvi. 3) ; comparable 
to fine gold (Lam. iv. 2) ; double refined. Zech. xiii. 9. They are the glory of the 
creation. Isaiah xlvi. 13. Origen compares the saints to sapphires and crystals : 
God calls them jewels. Mai. iii. 17. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 3. " The Lord will hear when I call unto him." Let us remember that 
the experience of one of the saints concerning the verity of God s promises, and 
of the certainty of the written privileges of the Lord s people, is a sufficient proof of 
the right which all his children have to the same mercies, and a ground of hope 
that they also shall partake of them in their times of need. David Dickson, 1653. 

Verse 4. " Stand in awe, and sin not." Jehovah is a name of great power 
and efficacy, a name that hath in it five vowels, without which no language can 
be expressed ; a name that hath in it also three syllables, to signify the Trinity 
of persons, the eternity of God, One in Three and Three in One ; a name of such 
dread and reverence amongst the Jews, that they tremble to name it, and there 
fore they use the name Adonai (Lord) in all their devotions. And thus ought every 
one to " stand in awe, and sin not," by taking the name of God in vain ; but to 


sing praise, and honour, to remember, to declare, to exalt, to praise and bless it ; 
for holy and reverend, only worthy and excellent is his name. Rayment, 1630. 

Verse 4. " Commune with your own heart." The language is similar to that 
which we use when we say, " Consult your better judgment," or, " Take counsel 
of your own good sense." Albert Barnes, in loc. 

Verse 4. If thou wouldst exercise thyself to godliness in solitude, accustom 
thyself to soliloquies, I mean to conference with thyself. He needs never be idle 
that hath so much business to do with his own soul. It was a famous answer 
which Antisthenes gave when he was asked what fruit he reaped by all his studies. 
By them, saith he, I have learned both to live and talk with myself. Soliloquies 
are the best disputes ; every good man is best company for himself of all the 
creatures. Holy David enjoineth this to others, " Commune with your own hearts 
upon your bed, and be still." " Commune with your own hearts ; " when ye have 
none to speak with, talk to yourselves. Ask yourselves for what end ye were 
made, what lives ye have led, what times ye have lost, what love ye have abused, 
what wrath ye have deserved. Call yourselves to a reckoning, how ye have 
improved your talents, how true or false ye have been to your trust, what pro 
vision ye have laid in for an hour of death, what preparation ye have made for 
a great day of account. " Upon your beds." Secrecy is the best opportunity 
for this duty. The silent night is a good time for this speech. When we have 
no outward objects to disturb us, and to call our eyes, as the fool s eyes are always, 
to the ends of the earth ; then our eyes, as the eyes of the wise, may be in our 
heads ; and then our minds, like the windows in Solomon s temple, may be broad 
inwards. The most successful searches have been made in the night season ; the 
soul is then wholly shut up in the earthly house of the body, and hath no visits 
from strangers to disquiet its thoughts. Physicians have judged dreams a pro 
bable sign whereby they might find out the distempers of the body. Surely, then, 
the bed is no bad place to examine and search into the state of the soul. " And 
be still." Self-communion will much help to curb your headstrong, ungodly 
passions. Serious consideration, like the casting up of earth amongst bees, will 
allay inordinate affections when they are full of fury, and make such a hideous 
noise. Though sensual appetites and unruly desires are, as the people of Ephesus, 
in an uproar, pleading for their former privilege, and expecting their wonted 
provision, as in the days of their predominancy, if conscience use its authority, 
commanding them in God s name, whose officer it is, to keep the king s peace, 
and argue it with them, as the town-clerk of Ephesus, " We are in danger to be 
called in question for this days s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may 
give an account of this day s concourse ; " all is frequently by this means hushed, 
and the tumult appeased without any further mischief. George Swinnock, 

Verse 4. " Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still." When 
we are most retired from the world, then we are most fit to have, and usually have, 
most communion with God. If a man would but abridge himself of sleep, and 
wake with holy thoughts, when deep sleep falleth upon sorrowful labouring men, 
he might be entertained with visions from God, though not such visions as Eliphaz 
and others of the saints have had, yet visions he might have. Every time God 
communicates himself to the soul, there is a vision of love, or mercy, or power, 
somewhat of God in his nature, or in his will, is showed unto us. David shows 
us divine work when we go to rest. The bed is not all for sleep : " Commune with 
your own heart upon your bed, and be still." Be still or quiet, and then commune 
with your hearts ; and if you will commune with your hearts, God will come and 
commune with your hearts too, his Spirit will give you a loving visit and visions 
of his love. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 4. " Stand in awe." 

With sacred awe pronounce his name. 
Whom words nor thoughts can reach. 

John Needham, 1768. 

Verse 6. Where Christ reveals himself there is satisfaction in the slenderest 
portion, and without Christ there is emptiness in the greatest fulness. Alexander 
Grosse, on enjoying Christ, 1632. 

Verse 6. " Many," said David, " ask who will shew us any good ? " meaning 


riches, and honour, and pleasure, which are not good. But when he came to godli 
ness itself, he leaves out " many," and prayeth in his own person, " Lord, lift thou 
up the light of thy countenance upon us ; " as if none would join with him. Henry 

Verse 6. " Who will shew us any good ? " This is not a fair translation. The 
word any is not in the text, nor anything equivalent to it ; and not a few have 
quoted it, and preached upon the text, placing the principal emphasis upon this 
illegitimate. The place is sufficiently emphatic. There are multitudes who say, 
Who will shew us good ? Man wants good ; he hates evil as evil, because he has 
pain, suffering, and death through it ; and he wishes to find that supreme good which 
will content his heart, and save him from evil. But men mistake this good. They 
look for a good that is to gratify their passions ; they have no notion of any 
happiness that does not come to them through the medium of their senses. There 
fore they reject spiritual good, and they reject the supreme God, by whom alone 
all the powers of the soul of man can be gratified. Adam Clarke. 

Verse 6. "Lift thou up," etc. This was the blessing of the high priest and 
is the heritage of all the saints. It includes reconciliation, assurance, communion, 
benediction, in a word, the fulness of God. Oh, to be filled therewith ! C. H. S. 

Verses 6, 7. Lest riches should be accounted evil in themselves, God some 
times gives them to the righteous ; and lest they should be considered as the chief 
good, he frequently bestows them on the wicked. But they are more generally 
the portion of his enemies than his friends. Alas 1 what is it to receive and not 
to be received ? to have none other dews of blessing than such as shall be followed 
by showers of brimstone ? We may compass ourselves with sparks of security, 
and afterwards be secured in eternal misery. This world is a floating island, and 
so sure as we cast anchor upon it, we shall be carried away by it. God, and all 
that he has made, is not more than God without anything that he has made. He 
can never want treasure who has such a golden mine. He is enough without the 
creature, but the creature is not anything without him. It is, therefore, better to 
enjoy him without anything else, than to enjoy everything else without him. It 
is better to be a wooden vessel filled with wine, than a golden one filled with water. 
William Seeker s Nonsuch Professor, 1660. 

Verse 7. What madness and folly is it that the favourites of heaven should 
envy the men of the world, who at best do but feed upon the scraps that come 
from God s table I Temporals are the bones ; spirituals are the marrow. Is it 
below a man to envy the dogs, because of the bones ? And is it not much more 
below a Christian to envy others for temporals, when himself enjoys spirituals ? 
Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 1. " Thou hast put gladness in my heart." The comforts which God 
reserves for his mourners are filling comforts (Rom. xv. 13) ; " The God of hope 
fill you with joy " (John xvi. 24) ; " Ask that your joy may be full." When God 
pours in the joys of heaven they fill the heart, and make it run over (2 Cor. vii. 4) ; 
" I am exceeding joyful ; " the Greek is, I overflow with joy, as a cup that is filled 
with wine till it runs over. Outward comforts can no more fill the heart than 
a triangle can fill a circle. Spiritual joys are satisfying (Psalm Ixiii. 5) ; " My 
heart shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness ; and my mouth shall praise 
thee with joyful lips ; " " Thou hast put gladness in my heart." Worldly joys do 
put gladness into the face, but the spirit of God puts gladness into the heart ; divine 
joys are heart joys (Zech. x. 7 ; John xvi. 22) ; " Your heart shall rejoice " 
(Luke i. 47) ; " My spirit rejoiced in God." And to show how filling these comforts 
are, which are of a heavenly extraction, the Psalmist says they create greater joy 
than when " corn and wine increase." Wine and oil may delight but not satisfy ; 
they have their vacuity and indigence. We may say, as Zech. x. 2, " They comfort 
in vain ; " outward comforts do sooner cloy than cheer, and sooner weary than fill. 
Xerxes offered great rewards to him that could find out a new pleasure ; but the 
comforts of the Spirit are satisfactory, they recruit the heart (Psalm xciv. 19), 
" Thy comforts delight my soul." There is as much difference between heavenly 
comforts and earthly, as between a banquet that is eaten, and one that is painted 
on the wall. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 8. It is said of the husbandman, that having cast his seed into the ground, 
he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth 


not how. Mark iv. 26, 27. So a good man having by faith and prayer cast his 
care upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God 
to perform all things for him according to his holy will. Matthew Henry. 

Verse 8. When you have walked with God from morning until night, it 
remaineth that you conclude the day well, when you would give yourself to rest 
at night. Wherefore, first look back and take a strict view of your whole 
carriage that day past. Reform what you find amiss ; and rejoice, or be grieved, 
as you find you have done well or ill, as you have advanced or declined in grace 
that day. Secondly, since you cannot sleep in safety if God, who is your keeper 
(Psalm cxi. 4, 5), do not wake and watch for you (Psalm cxxvii, 1) ; and though 
you have God to watch when you sleep, you cannot be safe, if he that watcheth 
be your enemy. Wherefore it is very convenient that at night you renew and 
confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer, commending and committing 
yourself to God s tuition by prayer (Psalm iii. 4, 5 ; Psalm xcii. 2), with thanks 
giving before you go to bed. Then shall you lie down in safety. Psalm iv. 8. All 
this being done, yet while you are putting off your apparel, when you are lying down, 
and when you are in bed, before you sleep, it is good that you commune with your 
own heart. Psalm iv. 4. If possibly you can fall asleep with some heavenly meditation, 
then will your sleep be more sweet (Prov. iii. 21, 24, 25) ; and more secure (Prov. vi. 
21, 22) ; your dreams fewer, or more comfortable ; your head will be fuller of good 
thoughts (Prov. vi. 22), and your heart will be in a better frame when you awake, 
whether in the night or in the morning. Condensed from Henry Scudder s Daily 
Walk, 1633. 

Verse 8. " I will both," etc. We have now to retire for a moment from the 
strife of tongues and the open hostility of foes, into the stillness and privacy of 
the chamber of sleep. Here, also, we find the " I will " of trust. " I will both 
lay me down in peace, and sleep ; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." 
God is here revealed to us as exercising personal care in the still chamber. And 
there is something here which should be inexpressibly sweet to the believer, for 
this shows the minuteness of God s care, the individuality of his love ; how it 
condescends and stoops, and acts, not only in great, but also in little spheres ; 
not only where glory might be procured from great results, but where nought 
is to be had save the gratitude and love of a poor feeble creature, whose life has 
been protected and preserved, in a period of helplessness and sleep. How blessed 
would it be if we made a larger recognition of God in the still chamber ; if we 
thought of him as being there in all hours of illness, of weariness, and pain ; if 
we believed that his interest and care are as much concentrated upon the feeble 
believer there as upon his people when in the wider battle field of the strife of 
tongues. There is something inexpressibly touching in this " laying down " of 
the Psalmist. In thus lying down he voluntarily gave up guardianship of himself ; 
he resigned himself into the hands of another ; he did so completely, for in the absence 
of all care he slept ; there was here a perfect trust. Many a believer lies down, 
but it is not to sleep. Perhaps he feels safe enough so far as his body is concerned, 
but cares and anxieties invade the privacy of his chamber ; they come to try his 
faith and trust ; they threaten, they frighten, and alas ! prove too strong for trust. 
Many a poor believer might say, " I will lay me down, but not to sleep." The author 
met with a touching instance of this, in the case of an aged minister whom he visited 
in severe illness. This worthy man s circumstances were narrow, and his family 
trials were great ; he said, " The doctor wants me to sleep, but how can I sleep 
with care sitting on my pillow ? " It is the experience of some of the Lord s people, 
that although equal to an emergency or a continued pressure, a reaction sets in 
afterwards ; and when they come to be alone their spirits sink, and they do not 
realise that strength from God, or feel that confidence in him which they felt while 

the pressure was exerting its force There is a trial in stillness ; and oftentimes 

the still chamber makes a larger demand upon loving trust than the battle field. 
O that we could trust God more and more with personal things ! O that he were 
the God of our chamber, as well as of our temples and houses ! O that we could 
bring him more and more into the minutiae of daily life ! If we did thus, we should 
experience a measure of rest to which we are, perhaps, strangers now ; we should 
have less dread of the sick chamber ; we should have that unharassed mind which 
conduces most to repose, in body and soul ; we should be able to say, " I will lie 
down and sleep, and leave to-morrow with God ! " Ridley s brother offered to remain 
with him during the night preceding his martyrdom, but the bishop declined, saying, 


that " he meant to go to bed, and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life." Philip 
Bennett Power s I Wills of the Psalms. 

Verse 8. Due observation of Providence will both beget and secure inward 
tranquHity in your minds amidst the vicissitudes and revolutions of things in this 
unstable vain world. " I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep ; for the Lord 
only maketh me dwell in safety." He resolves that sinful fears of events shall not 
rob him of his inward quiet, nor torture his thoughts with anxious presages : he 
will commit all his concerns into that faithful fatherly hand that had hitherto wrought 
all things for him ; and he means not to lose the comfort of one night s rest, nor 
bring the evil of to-morrow upon the day ; but knowing in whose hand he was, 
wisely enjoys the sweet felicity of a resigned will. Now this tranquility of our 
minds is as much begotten and preserved by a due consideration of providence as by 
anything whatsoever. John Flavel, 16271691. 

Verse 8. Happy is the Christian, who having nightly with this verse, committed 
himself to his bed as to his grave, shall at last, with the same words, resign himself 
to his grave as to his bed, from which he expects in due time to arise, and sing a 
morning hymn with the children of the resurrection. George Home, D.D., 1776. 

Verse 9." Sleep." 

" How blessed was that slee* 
The siniess saviour Knew ! 
In vain the storm-winds blew, 
Till he awoke to others woes, 
And hushed the billows to repose. 

How beautiful is sleep 
The sleep that Christians know ! 
Ye mourners ! cease your woe, 
While soft upon his Saviour s breast. 
The righteous sinks to endless rest." 

Mrs. M Car tree. 


Verse 1. Is full of matter for a sermon upon, past mercies a plea for present 
help. The first sentence shows that believers desire, expect, and believe in a God 
that heareth prayer. The title God of my righteousness, may furnish a text (see 
exposition), and the last sentence may suggest a sermon upon, " The best of saints 
must still appeal to God s mercy and sovereign grace." 

Verse 2. Depravity of man as evinced (1) by continuance in despising Christ, 
(2) loving vanity in his heart, and (3) seeking lies in his daily life. 

Verse 2. The length of the sinner s sin. " How long ? " May be bounded 
by repentance, shall be by death, and yet shall continue in eternity. 

Verse 3. Election. Its aspects towards God, our enemies, and ourselves. 

Verse 3. " The Lord will hear when I call unto him." Answers to prayer certain 
to special persons. Mark out those who can claim the favour. 

Verse 3. The gracious Separatist. Who is he ? Who separated him ? With 
vrhat end ? How to make men know it ? 

Verse 4. The sinner directed to review himself, that he may be convinced of 
sin. Andrew Fuller, 1754 1815. 

Verse 4. " Be still." Advice good, practical, but hard to follow. Times 
when seasonable. Graces needed to enable one to be still. Results of quietness. 
Persons who most need the advice. Instances of its practice. Here is much material 
for a sermon. 

Verse 5. The nature of those sacrifices of righteousness which the Lord s people 
are expected to offer. William Ford Vance, 1827. 

Verse 6. The cry of the world and the church contrasted. Vox populi not 
always Vox Dei. 

Verse 6. The cravings of the soul all satisfied in God. 

Verses 6, 7. An assurance of the Saviour s love, the source of unrivalled joy. 

Verse 7. The believer s joys. (1) Their source, " Thou ; " (2) their season 


even now " Thou hast ; " (3) their position, " m my heart ; " (4) their excellence, 
" more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." 

Another excellent theme suggests itself " The superiority of the joys of grace 
to the joys of earth ; " or, " Two sort of prosperity which is to be the more 
desired ? " 

Verse 8. The peace and safety of the good man. Joseph Lathrop, D.D., 1805. 

Verse 8. A bedchamber for believers, a vesper song to sing in it, and a guard 
to keep the door. 

Verse 8. The Christian s good-night. 

Verses 2 to 8. The means which a believer should use to win the ungodly to 
Christ. (1). Expostulation, verse 2. (2.) Instruction, verse 3. (3.) Exhortation, 
verses 4, 5. (4.) Testimony to the blessedness of true religion, as in verses 6, 7. 
<5.) Exemplification of that testimony by the peace of faith, verse 8. 


TITLE. " To the Chief Musician upon Nehiloth, a Psalm of David." The Hebreu 
word Nehiloth is taken from another word, signifying " to perforate," " to bore 
through," whence it comes to mean a pipe or a flute ; so that this song was probably 
intended to be sung with an accompaniment of wind instruments, such as the horn, 
the trumpet, flute, or cornet. However, it is proper to remark that we are not sure of 
the interpretation of these ancient titles, for the Septuagint translates it, " For him 
who shall obtain inheritance," and Aben Ezra thinks it denotes some old and well-known 
melody to which this Psalm was to be played. The best scholars confess that great 
darkness hangs over the precise interpretation of the titles ; nor is this much to be 
regretted, for it furnishes an internal evidence of the great antiquity of the Book. Through 
out the first, second, third, and fourth Psalms, you will have noticed that the subject 
is a contrast between the position, the character, and the prospects of the righteous and 
of the wicked. In this Psalm you will note the same. The Psalmist carries out a 
contrast between himself made righteous by God s grace, and the wicked who opposed 
him. To the devout mind there is here presented a precious view of the Lord Jesus, 
of whom it is said that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplication 
with strong crying and tears. 

DIVISION. The Psalm should be divided into two parts, from the first to the seventh 
verse, and then from the eight to the twelfth. In the first part of the Psalm David most 
vehemently beseeches the Lord to hearken to his prayer, and in the second part he retraces 
the same ground. 

/"MVE ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 

There are two sorts of prayers those expressed in words, and the unuttered 
longings which abide as silent meditations. Words are not the essence but the 
garments of prayer. Moses at the Red Sea cried to God, though he said nothing. 
Yet the use of language may prevent distraction of mind, may assist the powers 
of the soul, and may excite devotion. David, we observe, uses both modes of 
prayer, and craves for the one a hearing, and for the other a consideration. What 
an expressive word! " Consider my meditation." If I haveasked that which is right, 
give it to me ; if I have omitted to ask that which I most needed, fill up the vacancy 
in my prayer. " Consider my meditation." Let thy holy soul consider it as 
presented through my all-glorious Mediator : then regard thou it in thy wisdom, 
weigh it in the scales, judge thou of my sincerity, and of the true state of my 
necessities, and answer me in due time for thy mercy s sake 1 There may be pre 
vailing intercession where there are no words ; and alas 1 there may be words 
where there is no true supplication. Let us cultivate the spirit of prayer which is 
even better than the habit of prayer. There may be seeming prayer where there 
is little devotion. We should begin to pray before we kneel down, and we should 
not cease when we rise up. 

2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God : for unto 
thee will I pray. 

" The voice of my cry." In another Psalm we find the expression, " The voice 
01 my weeping." Weeping has a voice a melting, plaintive tone, an ear-piercing 
shrillness, which reaches the very heart of God : and crying hath a voice a soul- 
moving eloquence ; coming from our heart it reaches God s heart. Ah 1 my 
brothers and sisters, sometimes we cannot put our prayers into words: they are 
nothing but a cry : but the Lord can comprehend the meaning, for he hears a voice 
in our cry. To a loving father his children s cries are music, and they have a magic 
influence which his heart cannot resist. " My King and my God." Observe care 
fully these little pronouns, " my King, and my God." They are the pith and marrow 
of the plea. Here is a grand argument why God should answer prayer because 
he is our King and our God. We are not aliens to him : he is the King of our 


country. Kings are expected to hear the appeals of their own people. We are 
not strangers to him ; we are his worshippers, and he is our God : ours by covenant, 
by promise, by oath, by blood. 

" For unto thee will I pray." Here David expresses his declaration that he 
will seek to God, and to God alone. God is to be the only object of worship : the 
only resource of our soul in times of need. Leave broken cisterns to the godless, 
and let the godly drink from the Divine fountain alone. " Unto thee will I pray." 
He makes a resolution, that as long as he lived he would pray. He would never 
cease to supplicate, even though the answer should not come. 

3 My voice shalt them hear in the morning, LORD ; in the morning will 
I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. 

Observe, this is not so much a prayer as a resolution, " My voice shalt thou 
hear, I will not be dumb, I will not be silent, I will not withhold my speech, I will 
cry to thee, for the fire that dwells within compels me to pray." We can sooner 
die than live without prayer. None of God s children are possessed with a dumb 

" In the morning." This is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An 
hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, 
let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and 
the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of 
the night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star. 

If we merely read our English version, and want an explanation of these two 
sentences, we find it in the figure of an archer, " / will direct my prayer unto thee," 
I will put my prayer upon the bow, I will direct it towards heaven, and then when 
I have shot up my arrow, / will look up to see where it has gone. But the Hebrew 
has a still fuller meaning than this " I will direct my prayer." It is the word 
that is used for the laying in order of the wood and the pieces of the victim upon 
the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread upon the table. It 
means just this : " I will arrange my prayer before thee ; " I will lay it out upon 
the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will 
arrange my prayer ; or, as old Master Trapp has it, " I will marshal up my prayers," 
I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper 
places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably. 

" And will look up," or, as the Hebrew might better be translated, " I will 
look out/ I will look out for the answer ; after I have prayed, I will expect that 
the blessing shall come." It is a word that is used in another place where we 
read of those who watched for the morning. So will I watch for thine answer, 
O my Lord I I will spread out my prayer like the victim on the altar, and I will 
look up, and expect to receive the answer by fire from heaven to consume the 

Two questions are suggested by the last part of this verse. Do we not miss 
very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation 
before it, and of hopeful expectation after it ? We too often rush into the 
presence of God without forethought or humility. We are live men who 
present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that 
we often miss the end of prayer ? We should be careful to keep the stream of 
meditation always running ; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. It 
is idle to pull up the ilood-gates of a dry brook, and then hope to see the wheel 
revolve. Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer 
without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the 
Holy Spirit, but he works by means. God made man, but he used the dust of 
the earth as a material : the Holy Ghost is the author of prayer, but he employs 
the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let 
not our prayers and praises be the flashes of a hot and hasty brain, but the steady 
burning of a well-kindled fire. 

But, furthermore, do we not forget to watch the result of our supplications ? 
We are like the ostrich, which lays her eggs and looks not for her young. We 
sow the seed, and are too idle to seek a harvest. How can we expect the Lord to 
open the windows of his grace, and pour us out a blessing, if we will not open 
the windows of expectation and look up for the promised favour ? Let holy 
preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger answers 
to our prayers. 


4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness : neither shall 
evil dwell with thee. 

5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight : thou hatest all workers of 

6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing : the LORD will abhor the 
bloody and deceitful man. 

And now the Psalmist having thus expressed his resolution to pray, you hear 
him putting up his prayer. He is pleading against his cruel and wicked enemies. 
He uses a most mighty argument. He begs of God to put them away from him, 
because they were displeasing to God himself. " For thou art not a God that 
hath pleasure in wickedness : neither shall evil dwell with thee." " When I pray 
against my tempters," says David, " I pray against the very things which thou 
thyself abhorrest." Thou hatest evil : Lord, I beseech thee, deliver me from it 1 

Let us learn here the solemn truth of the hatred which a righteous God must 
bear towards sin. He has no pleasure in wickedness, however wittily, grandly, 
and proudly it may array itself. Its glitter has no charm for him. Men may 
bow before the successful villainy, and forget the wickedness of the battle in the 
gaudiness of the triumph, but the Lord of Holiness is not such-an-one as we are. 
" Neither shall evil dwell with thee." He will not afford it the meanest shelter. 
Neither on earth nor in heaven shall evil share the mansion of God. Oh, how 
foolish are we if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as 
Christ Jesus and the devil 1 Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of 
our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts. " The foolish 
shall not stand in thy sight." Sinners are fools written large. A little sin is a great 
folly, and the greatest of all folly is great sin. Such sinful fools as these must be 
banished from the court of heaven. Earthly kings were wont to have fools in 
their trains, but the only wise God will have no fools in his palace above. " Thou 
hatest all workers of iniquity." It is not a little dislike, but a thorough hatred which 
God bears to workers of iniquity. To be hated of God is an awful thing. O let 
us be very faithful in warning the wicked around us, for it will be a terrible thing 
for them to fall into the hands of an angry God ! Observe, that evil speakers must 
be punished as well as evil workers, for "thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing." 
All liars shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. 
A man may lie without danger of the law of man, but he will not escape the law 
of God. Liars have short wings, their flight shall soon be over, and they shall 
fall into the fiery floods of destruction. " The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful 
man." Bloody men shall be made drunk with their own blood, and they who 
began by deceiving others shall end with being deceived themselves. Our old 
proverb saith, " Bloody and deceitful men dig their own graves." The voice of 
the people is in this instance the voice of God. How forcible is the word abhor ! 
Does it not show us how powerful and deep-seated is the hatred of the Lord against 
the workers of iniquity ? 

7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy : 
and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. 

With this verse the first part of the Psalm ends. The Psalmist has bent his 
knee in prayer : he has described before God, as an argument for his deliverance, 
the character and the fate of the wicked ; and now he contrasts this with the 
condition of the righteous. " But as for me, I will come into thy house." I will 
not stand at a distance, I will come into thy sanctuary, just as a child comes into 
his father s house. But I will not come there by my own merits ; no, I have a 
multitude of sins, and therefore I will come m the multitude of thy mercy. I will 
approach thee with confidence because of thy immeasurable grace. God s judgments 
are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable ; he gives his wrath by weight, 
but without weight his mercy. " And in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy 
temple," towards the temple of thy holiness. The temple was not built on earth 
at that time ; it was but a tabernacle ; but David was wont to turn his eyes 
spiritually to that temple of God s holiness where between the wings of the Cherubim 
Jehovah dwells in light ineffable. Daniel opened his window towards Jerusalem, 
but we open our hearts towards heaven. 


8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies ; make 
thy way straight before my face. 

Now we come to the second part, in which the Psalmist repeats his arguments, 
and goes over the same ground again. 

" Lead me, Lord," as a little child is led by its father, as a blind man is guided 
by his friend. It is safe and pleasant walking when God leads the way. " In 
thy righteousness," not in my righteousness, for that is imperfect, but in thine, for 
thou art righteousness itself. " Make thy way," not my way, " straight before my 
face." Brethren, when we have learned to give up our own way, and long to walk 
in God s way, it is a happy sign of grace ; and it is no small mercy to see the way 
of God with clear vision straight before our face. Errors about duty may lead 
us into a sea of sins, before we know where we are. 

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth ; their inward part is very 
wickedness ; their throat is an open sepulchre ; they flatter with their 

This description of depraved man has been copied by the Apostle Paul, and, 
together with some other quotations, he has placed it in the second chapter of 
Romans, as being an accurate description of the whole human race, not of David s 
enemies only, but of all men by nature. Note that remarkable figure, " Their 
throat is an open sepulchre," a sepulchre full of loathsomeness, of miasma, of 
pestilence and death. But, worse than that, it is an open sepulchre, with all its 
evil gases issuing forth, to spread death and destruction all around. So, with 
the throat of the wicked, it would be a great mercy if it could always be closed. 
If we could seal in continual silence the mouth of the wicked it would be like a 
sepulchre shut up, and would not produce much mischief. But " their throat 
is an open sepulchre," consequently all the wickedness of their heart exhales, and 
comes forth. How dangerous is an open sepulchre ; men in their journeys might 
easily stumble therein, and find themselves among the dead. Ah ! take heed of 
the wicked man, for there is nothing that he will not say to ruin you ; he will long 
to destroy your character, and bury you in the hideous sepulchre of his own wicked 
throat. One sweet thought here, however. At the resurrection there will\ie a 
resurrection not only of bodies, but characters. This should be a great cormSrt 
to a man who has been abused and slandered. " Then shall the righteous shine 
forth as the sun." The world may think you vile, and bury your character ; but 
if you have been upright, in the day when the graves shall give up their dead, this 
open sepulchre of the sinner s throat shall be compelled to give up your heavenly 
character, and you shall come forth and be honoured in the sight of men. " They 
flatter with their tongue. Or, as we might read it, " They have an oily tongue, a 
smooth tongue." A smooth tongue is a great evil ; many have been bewitched 
by it. There be many human ant-eaters that with their long tongues covered 
with oily words entice and entrap the unwary and make their gain thereby. When 
the wolf licks the lamb, he is preparing to wet his teeth in its blood. 

10 Destroy thou them, O God ; let them fall by their own counsels ; cast 
them out in the multitude of their transgressions ; for they have rebelled 
against thee. 

" Against thee : " not against me. If they were my enemies I would forgive 
them, but I cannot forgive thine. We are to forgive our enemies, but God s 
enemies it is not in our power to forgive. These expressions have often been 
noticed by men of over refinement as being harsh, and grating on the ear. " Oh 1 " 
say they, " they are vindictive and revengeful." Let us remember that they 
might be translated as prophecies, not as wishes ; but we do not care to avail 
ourselves of this method of escape. We have never heard of a reader of the Bible 
who, after perusing these passages, was made revengeful by reading them, and 
it is but fair to test the nature of a writing by its effects. When we hear a judge 
condemning a murderer, however severe his sentence, we do not feel that we should 
be justified in condemning others for any private injury done to us. The Psalmist 
here speaks as a judge, ex offlcio ; he speaks as God s mouth, and in condemning 
the wicked he gives us no excuse whatever for uttering anything in the way of 
malediction upon those who have caused us personal offence. The most shameful 


way of cursing another is by pretending to bless him. We were all somewhat 
amused by noticing the toothless malice of that wretched old priest of Rome when 
he foolishly cursed the Emperor of France with his blessing. He was blessing 
him in form and cursing him in reality. Now, in direct contrast we put this healthy 
commination of David, which is intended to be a blessing by warning the sinner 
of the impending curse. O impenitent man, be it known unto thee that all thy 
godly friends will give their solemn assent to the awful sentence of the Lord, which 
he shall pronounce upon thee in the day of doom I Our verdict shall applaud 
the condemning curse which the Judge of all the earth shall thunder against the 

In the following verse we once more find the contrast which has marked the 
preceding Psalms. 

11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice : let them ever 
shout for joy, because thou defendest them : let them also that love thy 
name be joyful in thee. 

Joy is the privilege of the believer. When sinners are destroyed our rejoicing 
shall be full. They laugh first and weep ever after ; we weep now, but shall rejoice 
eternally. When they howl we shall shout, and as they must groan for ever, so 
shall we ever shout for joy. This holy bliss of ours has a firm foundation, for O 
Lord, we are joyful in thee. The eternal God is the well-spring of our bliss. We 
love God, and therefore we delight in him. Our heart is at ease in our God. We 
fare sumptuously every day because we feed on him. We have music in the house, 
music in the heart, and music in heaven, for the Lord Jehovah is our strength and 
our song ; he also is become our salvation. 

12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous ; with favour wilt thou com 
pass him as with a shield. 

Jehovah has ordained his people the heirs of blessedness, and nothing shall 
rob them of their inheritance. With all the fulness of his power he will bless them, 
and all his attributes shall unite to satiate them with divine contentment. Nor 
is this merely for the present, but the blessing reaches into the long and unknown 
future. " Thou Lord, wilt bless the righteous." This is a promise of infinite length, 
of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness. 

As for the defence which the believer needs in this land of battles, it is here 
promised to him in the fullest measure. There were vast shields used by the ancients 
as extensive as a man s whole person, which would surround him entirely. So 
says David, " With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield." According 
to Ainsworth there is here also the idea of being crowned, so that we wear a royal 
helmet, which is at once our glory and defence. O Lord, ever give to us this gracious 
coronation ! 


Verse 1. " Give ear to my words, Lord, consider my meditation." It is certain 
that the greater part of men, as they babble out vain, languid, and inefficacious 
prayers, most unworthy the ear of the blessed God, so they seem in some degree 
to set a just estimate upon them, neither hoping for any success from them, nor 
indeed seeming to be at all solicitous about it, but committing them to the mind 
as vain words, which in truth they are. But far be it from a wise and pious man, 
that he should so foolishly and coldly trifle in so serious an affair ; his prayer has 
a certain tendency and scope, at which he aims with assiduous and repeated desires, 
and doth not only pray that he may pray, but that he may obtain an answer ; and 
as he firmly believes that it may be obtained, so he firmly, and constantly, and 
eagerly urges his petition, that he may not flatter himself with an empty hope. 
Robert Leighton, D.D. 

Verses 1, 2. Observe the order and force of the words, " my cry," " the voice 
of my prayer ; " and also, " give ear," " consider," " hearken." These expressions 
all evince the urgency and energy of David s feelings and petitions. First, we 



have, " give ear ; " that is, hear me. But it is of little service for the words to 
be heard, unless the " cry," or the roaring, or the meditation, be considered. As 
if he had said, in a common way of expression, I speak with deep anxiety and 
concern, but with a failing utterance ; and I cannot express myself, nor make 
myself understood as I wish. Do thou, therefore, understand from my feelings 
more than I am able to express in words. And, therefore, I add my " cry ; " that 
what I cannot express in words for thee to hear, I may by my " cry " signify to 
thine understanding. And when thou hast understood me, then, O Lord " Hearken 
unto the voice of my prayer," and despise not what thou hast thus heard and under 
stood. We are not, however, to understand that hearing, understanding, and 
hearkening, are all different acts in God, in the same way as they are in us ; but 
that our feelings towards God are to be thus varied and increased ; that is, that 
we are first to desire to be heard, and then, that our prayers which are heard may 
be understood ; and then, that being understood, they may be hearkened unto, 
that is, not disregarded. Martin Luther. 

Verse 1. " Meditation " fits the soul for supplication ; meditation fills the soul 
with good liquor, and then prayer broaches it, and sets it a-running. David first 
mused, and then spake with his tongue, " Lord, make me to know mine end." 
Psalm xxxix. 3, 4. Nay, to assure us that meditation was the mother which bred 
and brought forth prayer, he calls the child by its parent s name, " Give ear to my 
words, Lord, consider my meditation." Meditation is like the charging of a piece, 
and prayer the discharging of it. " Isaac went into the field to meditate." 
Genesis xxiv. 63. The Septuagint, the Geneva translation, and Tremellius, 
in his marginal notes on it, read it to " pray ; " and the Hebrew word Jjn used 
there signifieth both to pray and meditate ; whereby we may learn they are very 
near akin ; like twins, they be in the same womb, in the same word. Meditation 
is the best beginning of prayer, and prayer is the best conclusion of meditation. 
When the Christian, like Daniel, hath first opened the windows of his soul by con 
templation, then he may kneel down to prayer. George Swinnock. 

Verse 3. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord." 

When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave 

To do the like ; our bodies but forerun 
The spirit s duty ; true hearts spread and heave 

Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun : 
Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep 
Him company all day, and in him sleep. 

Yet never sleep the sun up ; prayer should 

Dawn with the day, there are set awful hours 
Twixt heaven and us ; the manna was not good 

After sun- rising, for day sullies flowers. 
Rise to prevent the sun ; sleep doth sins glut, 
And heaven s gate opens when the world s is shut. 

Walk with thy fellow creatures ; note the hush 

And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring 
Or leaf but hath his morning hymn ; each bush 

And oak doth know I AM canst thou not sing \ 
O leave thy cares and follies ! Go this way, 
And thou art sure to prosper all the day. 

Henry Vaughan, 16211695. 

Verse 3. " My voice shalt thou hear in the morning." " In the morning shall 
my prayer prevent thee," said Heman. That is the fittest time for devotion, you 
being then fresh in your spirits, and freest from distractions. Which opportunity 
for holy duties may fitly be called the wings of the morning. Edward Reyner, 1658. 

Verse 3. " In the morning." " In the days of our fathers," says Bishop Burnet, 
" when a person came early to the door of his neighbour, and desired to speak with 
the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell him with 
freedom My master is at prayer, as it now is to say, My master is not up. " 

Verse 3. " In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up," 
or / will marshal my prayer, I will bring up petition after petition, pleading after 
pleading, even till I become like Jacob, a prince with God, till I have won the field 
and got the day. Thus the word is applied by a metaphor both to disputations 


with men and supplications to God. Further, we may take the meaning plainly 
without any strain of rhetoric, Set thy words in order before me. Method is good 
in everything, either an express or covert method. Sometimes it is the best of 
art to cover it ; in speaking there is a special use of method, for though, as one said 
very well (speaking of those who are more curious about method than serious about 
matter), " Method never converted any man ; " yet method and the ordering of words 
is very useful. Our speeches should not be heaps of words, but words bound up ; 
not a throng of words, but words set in array, or, as it were, in rank and file. Joseph 

Verse 3. " / will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up." In the words 
you may observe two things : first, David s posture in prayer ; secondly, his prac 
tice after prayer. First, his posture in prayer, " / will direct my prayer unto thee." 
Secondly, his practice after prayer, " And I will look up." The prophet in these 
words, makes use of two military words. First, he would not only pray, but 
marshal up his prayers, he would put them in battle array ; so much the Hebrew 
word ^n imports. Secondly, when he had done this, then he would be as a spy 
upon his watch-tower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day or no ; 
and so much the Hebrew word w imports. When David had set his prayers, 
his petitions, in rank and file, in good array, then he was resolved he would look 
abroad, he would look about him to see at what door God would send in an answer 
of prayer. He is either a fool or a madman, he is either very weak or very wicked, 
that prays and prays, but never looks after his prayers ; that shoots many an arrow 
towards heaven, but never minds where his arrows alight. Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 3. David would direct his prayer to God and look up; not down to the 
world, down to corruption, but up to God what he would speak. Psalm Ixxxv. 8. 
" I will hear what God the Lord will speak." Let the resolution of the prophet 
be thine, " I will look unto the Lord ; I will wait for the God of my salvation : my 
God will hear me." Micah vii. 7. William Greenhill, 1650. 

Verse 3. " / will direct my prayer to thee, and will look up," that is, I will trade, 
I will send out my spiritual commodities, and expect a gainful return ; I will make 
my prayers, and not give them for lost, but look up for an answer. God will bring 
man home by a way contrary to that by which he wandered from him. Man fell 
from God by distrust, by having God in suspicion ; God will bring him back by 
trust, by having good thoughts of him. Oh, how richly laden might the vessel 
which thou sendest out come home, wouldst thou but long and look for its return I 
George Swinnock. 

Verse 3. Faith hath a supporting art after prayer : it supports the soul to 
expect a gracious answer : " / will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up," 
or I will look ; for what, but for a return ? An unbelieving heart shoots at 
random, and never minds where his arrow lights, or what comes of his praying ; 
but faith fills the soul with expectation. As a merchant, when he casts up his 
estate, he counts what he hath sent beyond sea, as well as what he hath in hand ; 
so doth faith reckon upon what he hath sent to heaven in prayer and not received, 
as well as those mercies which he hath received, and are in hand at present. Now 
this expectation which faith raiseth in the soul after prayer, appears in the power 
that it hath to quiet and compose the soul in the interim between the sending forth, 
as I may say, the ship of prayer, and its return home with its rich lading it goes 
for, and it is more or less, according as faith s strength is. Sometimes faith comes 
from prayer in triumph, and cries, Victoria. It gives such a being and existence 
to the mercy prayed for in the Christian s soul before any likelihood of it appears 
to sense and reason, that the Christian can silence all his troubled thoughts with 
the expectation of its coming. Yea, it will make the Christian disburse his praises 

for the mercy long before it is received For want of looking up many a prayer 

is lost. If you do not believe, why do you pray ? And if you believe, why do 
you not expect ? By praying you seem to depend on God ; by not expecting, you 
again renounce your confidence. What is this, but to take his name in vain ? 
O Christian, stand to your prayer in a holy expectation of what you have begged 
upon the credit of the promise. . . . Mordecai, no doubt, had put up many prayers 
for Esther, and therefore he waits at the king s gate, looking what answer God 
would in his providence give thereunto. Do thou likewise. William Gurnall. 

Verse 4. " Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness." As a man 
that cutteth with a dull knife is the cause of cutting, but not of the ill-cutting 


and hacking of the knife the knife is the cause of that ; or if a man strike upon 
an Instrument that is out of tune, he is the cause of the sound, but not of the jarring 
sound that is the fault of the untuned strings ; or, as a man riding upon a lame 
horse, stirs him the man is the cause of the motion, but the horse himself of the 
halting motion : thus God is the author of every action, but not of the evil of that 
action that is from man. He that makes instruments and tools of iron or other 
metal, he maketh not the rust and canker which corrupteth them, that is from 
another cause ; nor doth that heavenly workman, God Almighty, bring in sin 
and iniquity ; nor can he be justly blamed if his creatures do soil and besmear 
themselves with the foulness of sin, for he made them good. Spencer s Things New 
and Old. 

Verses 4 6. Here the Lord s alienation from the wicked is set forth gradually, 
and seems to rise by six steps. First, he hath no pleasure in them; secondly, they 
shall not dwell with them ; thirdly, he casteth them forth, they shall not stand in 
his sight ; fourthly, his heart turns from them, thou hatesl all the workers of iniquity ; 
fifthly, his hand is turned upon them, thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing ; 
sixthly, his spirit riseth against them, and is alienated from them, the Lord will abhor 
the bloody man. This estrangement is indeed a strange (yet a certain) punishment 
to " the workers of iniquity." These words, " the workers of iniquity," may be 
considered two ways. First, as intending (not all degrees of sinners, or sinners 
of every degree, but) the highest degree of sinners, great, and gross sinners, resolved 
and wilful sinners. Such as sin industriously, and, as it were, artificially, with skill 
and care to get themselves a name, as if they had an ambition to be accounted 
workmen that need not be ashamed in doing that whereof all ought to be ashamed ; 
these, in strictness of Scripture sense, are " workers of iniquity." Hence note, 
notorious sinners made sin their business, or their trade. Though every sin be a 
work of iniquity, yet only some sinners are " workers of iniquity ; " and they who 
are called so, make it their calling to sin. We read of some who love and make a lie. 
Rev. xxii. 15. A lie may be told by those who neither love nor make it ; but there 
are lie-makers, and they, sure enough, are lovers of a lie. Such craftsmen in sinning 
are also described in Psalm Iviii. 2. " Yea, in heart ye work wickedness ; ye weigh 
the violence of your hands in the earth." The psalmist doth not say, they had 
wickedness in their heart, but they did work it there ; the heart is a shop within, 
an underground shop ; there they did closely contrive, forge, and hammer out 
their wicked purposes, and fit them into actions. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 5. What an astonishing thing is sin, which maketh the God of love and 
Father of mercies an enemy to his creatures, and which could only be purged by 
the blood of the Son of God 1 Though all must believe this who believe the Bible, 
yet the exceeding sinfulness of sin is but weakly apprehended by those who have 
the deepest sense of it, and will never be fully known in this world. Thomas Adam s 
Private Thoughts, 1701 1784. 

Verse 5 (last clause). " Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." For what God 
thinks of sin, see Deut. vii. 22; Prov. vi. 16; Rev. ii. 6, 15 ; where he expresseth 
his detestation and hatred of it, from which hatred proceeds all those direful plagues 
and judgments thundered from the fiery mouth of his most holy law against it ; 
nay, not only the work, but worker also of iniquity becomes the object of his hatred. 
William Gurnall. 

Verse 5 (last clause). " Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." If God s hatred 
be against the workers of iniquity, how great is it against iniquity itself 1 If a 
man hate a poisonous creature, he hates poison much more. The strength of 
God s hatred is against sin, and so should we hate sin, and hate it with strength ; 
it is an abomination unto God, let it be so unto us. Prov. vi. 16 19, " These six 
things doth the Lord hate ; yea, seven are an abomination unto him ; a proud look, 
a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked 
imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh 
lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." William Greenhill. 

Verse 5 (last clause). Those whom the Lord hates must perish. But he hates 
impenitent sinners, " Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." Now, who are so pro 
perly workers of iniquity as those who are so eager at it that they will not leave 
this work, though they be in danger to perish for it ? Christ puts it out of doubt. 
The workers of iniquity must perish. Luke xiii. 27. Those whom the Lord will 
tear in his wrath must perish with a witness ; but those whom he hates, he tears, &c. 


Job xvi. 8. What more due to such impenitent sinners than hatred I What more 
proper than wrath, since they treasure up wrath ? Rom. ii. Will he entertain 
those in the bosom of love whom his soul hates ? No ; destruction is their portion. 
Prov. xxi. 15. If all the curses of the law, all the threatenings of the gospel, all 
judgments in earth or in hell, will be the ruin of him, he must perish. If the Lord s 

arm be strong enough to wound him dead, he must die. Psalm Ixviii. 21 

Avoid all that Christ hates. If you love, approve, entertain that which is hateful to 
Christ, how can he love you ? What is that which Christ hates ? The psalmist 
(Psalm xlv. 7) tells us, making it one of Christ s attributes, to hate wickedness. . . . 
As Christ hates iniquity, so the " workers of iniquity." You must not love them, 
so as to be intimate with them, delight in the company of evil doers, openly profane, 
scorners of godliness, obstructors of the power of it. 2 Cor. vi. 14 18. If you love 
so near relations to wicked men, Christ will have no relation to you. If you would 
have communion with Christ in sweet acts of love, you must have no fellowship 
with the unfruitful works of darkness, nor those that act them. David Clarkson, 
B.D., 16211686. 

Verse 6. " Thou shall destroy them that speak leasing," whether in jest or earnest- 
Those that lie in jest will (without repentance) go to hell in earnest. John Trapp. 

Verse 6. " Thou shall destroy them that speak leasing," etc. In the same field 
wherein Absalom raised battle against his father, stood the oak that was his gibbet. 
The mule whereon he rode was his hangman, for the mule carried him to the tree, 
and the hair wherein he gloried served for a rope to hang. Little know the wicked 
how everything which now they have, shall be a snare to trap them when God 
begins to punish them. William Cowper, 1612. 

Verse 7. " In thy fear will I worship." As natural fear makes the spirits retire 
from the outward parts of the body to the heart, so a holy fear of miscarrying, 
in so solemn a duty, would be a means to call thy thoughts from all exterior carnal 
objects, and fix them upon the duty in hand. As the sculpture is on the seal, so 
will the print on the wax be ; if the fear of God be deeply engraven on thy heart, 
there is no doubt but it will make a suitable impression on the duty thou performest. 
William Gurnall. 

Verse 7. David saith, " In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." The 
temple did shadow forth the body of our Lord Christ, the Mediator, in whom only 
our prayers and services are accepted with the Father which Solomon respected 
in looking towards the temple. Thomas Manton, D.D., 1620 1677. 

Verse 7. " But as for me," etc. A blessed verse this ! a blessed saying ! The 
words and the sense itself, carry with them a powerful contrast. For there are 
two things with which this life is exercised, HOPE and FEAR, which are, as it were, 
those two springs of Judges i. 15, the one from above, the other from beneath. Fear 
comes from beholding the threats and fearful judgments of God ; as being a God 
in whose sight no one is clean, every one is a sinner, every one is damnable. But 
hope comes from beholding the promises, and the all-sweet mercies of God ; as it is 
written (Psalm xxv. 6), " Remember, O Lord, thy lovingkindnesses, and thy tender 
mercies which have been ever of old." Between these two, as between the upper 
and nether millstone, we must always be ground and kept, that we never turn 
either to the right hand or to the left. For this turning is the state peculiar to 
hypocrites, who are exercised with the two contrary things, security and presumption. 
Martin Luther. 

Verse 9. If the whole soul be infected with such a desperate disease, what a 
great and difficult work is it to regenerate, to restore men again to spiritual life 
and vigour, when every part of them is seized by such a mortal distemper 1 How 
great a cure doth the Spirit of God effect in restoring a soul by sanctifying it 1 To 
heal but the lungs or the liver, if corrupted, is counted a great cure, though performed 
but upon one part of thee ; but all thy inward parts are very rottenness. " For 
there is no faithfulness in their mouth ; their inward part is very wickedness : their 
throat is an open sepulchre ; they flatter with their tongue." How great a cure is it 
then to heal thee ! Such as is only in the skill and power of God to do. Thomas 

Verse 9. " Their throat is an open sepulchre." This figure graphically portrays 
the filthy conversation of the wicked. Nothing can be more abominable to the 
senses than an open sepulchre, when a dead body beginning to putrefy steams forth 


its tainted exhalations. What proceeds out of their mouth is infected and putrid ; 
and as the exhalation from a sepulchre proves the corruption within, so it is with 
the corrupt conversation of sinners. -Robert Haldane s " Expositions of the Epistle 
to the Romans," 1835. 

Verse 9. " Their throat is an open sepulchre." This doth admonish us, (1) that 
the speeches of natural unregenerate men are unsavoury, rotten, and hurtful to 
others ; for, as a sepulchre doth send out noisome savours and filthy smells, so 
evil men do utter rotten and filthy words. (2) As a sepulchre doth consume and 
devour bodies cast into it, so wicked men do with their cruel words destroy others ; 
they are like a gulf to destroy others. (3) As a sepulchre, having devoured many 
corpses, is still ready to consume more, being never satisfied, so wicked men, having 
overthrown many with their words, do proceed in their outrage, seeking whom 
they may devour. Thomas Wilson, 1653. 

Verse 9. " Their inward part," etc. Their hearts are storehouses for the 
devil. John Trap p. 

Verse 10. All those portions where we find apparently prayers that breathe re 
venge, are never to be thought of as anything else than the breathed assent of righteous 
souls to the justice of their God, who taketh vengeance on sin. When taken 
as the words of Christ himself, they are no other than an echo of the Intercessor s 
acquiescence at last in the sentence on the barren fig-tree. It is as if he cried aloud, 
" Hew it down now, I will intercede no longer, the doom is righteous, destroy them, 
O God ; cast them out in (or, for) the multitude of their transgressions, for they have 
rebelled against thee." And in the same moment he may be supposed to invite his 
saints to sympathise in his decision ; just as in Rev. xviii. 20, " Rejoice over her, 
thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets." In like manner, when one of 
Christ s members, in entire sympathy with his Head, views the barren fig-tree from 
the same point of observation, and sees the glory of God concerned in inflicting the 
blow, he too can cry, " Let the axe smite ! " Had Abraham stood beside the angel 
who destroyed Sodom, and seen how Jehovah s name required the ruin of these 
impenitent rebels, he would have cried out, " Let the shower descend ; let the fire 
and brimstone come down 1 " not in any spirit of revenge ; not from want of tender 
love to souls, but from intense earnestness of concern for the glory of his God. We 
consider this explanation to be the real key that opens all the difficult passages in 
this book, where curses seem to be called for on the head of the ungodly. They are 
no more than a carrying out of Deut. xxvii. 15 26, " Let all the people say, Amen," 
and an entering into the Lord s holy abhorrence of sin, and delight in acts of justice 
expressed in the " Amen hallelujah," of Rev. xix. 3. Andrew A. Bonar, 1859. 

Verse 10. (Or imprecatory passages generally). Lord, when in my daily service I 
read David s Psalms, give me to alter the accent of my soul according to their several 
subjects. In such Psalms wherein he confesseth his sins, or requesteth thy pardon, 
or praiseth for former, or prayeth for future favours, in all these give me to raise 
my soul to as high a pitch as may be. But when I come to such Psalms wherein 
he curseth his enemies, O there let me bring my soul down to a lower note. For 
those words were made only to fit David s mouth. I have the like breath, but not 
the same spirit to pronounce them. Nor let me flatter myself, that it is lawful for 
me, with David, to curse thine enemies, lest my deceitful heart entitle mine enemies 
to be thine, and so what was religion in David, prove malice in me, whilst I act 
revenge under the pretence of piety. Thomas Fuller, D.D., 16081661. 

Verse 12. When the strong man armed comes against us, when he darts his fiery 
darts, what can hurt us, if God compass us about with his lovingkindness as with a 
shield ? He can disarm the tempter and restrain his malice, and tread him under 
our feet. If God be not with us, if he do not give us sufficient grace, so subtle, so 
powerful, so politic an enemy, will be too hard for us. How surely are we foiled, 
and get the worse, when we pretend to grapple with him in our own strength 1 How 
many falls, and how many bruises by those falls have we got, by relying too much 
on our own skill ? How often have we had the help of God when we have humbly 
asked it ! And how sure are we to get the victory, // Christ pray for us that we do 
not fail ! Luke xxii. 31. Where can we go for shelter but unto God our Maker I 
When this lion of the forest does begin to roar, how will he terrify and vex us r 
till he that permits him for awhile to trouble us, be pleased to chain him up 
again I Timothy Rogers, 1691. 


Verse 12. " As with a shield." Luther, when making his way into the presence 
of Cardinal Cajetan, who had summoned him to answer for his heretical opinions 
at Augsburg, was asked by one of the Cardinal s minions, where he should find a 
shelter, if his patron, the Elector of Saxony, should desert him ? " Under the 
shelter of heaven I " was the reply. The silenced minion turned round and went his 

Verse 12. " With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield." The shield 
is not for the defence of any particular part of the body, as almost all the other 
pieces are : helmet, fitted for the head ; plate designed for the breast ; and so others, 
they have their several parts, which they are fastened to ; but the shield is a piece 
that is intended for the defence of the whole body. It was used therefore to be made 
very large ; for its broadness, called a gate or door, because so long and large, as in a 
manner to cover the whole body. And if the shield were not large enough at once 
to cover every part, yet being a movable piece of armour, the skilful soldier might 
turn it this way or that way, to catch the blow or arrow from lighting on any 
part they were directed to. And this indeed doth excellently well set forth the 
universal use that faith is of to the Christian. It defends the whole man : every 

part of the Christian by it is preserved The shield doth not only defend the 

whole body, but it is a defence to the soldier s armour also ; it keeps the arrow 
from the helmet as well as head, from the breast and breastplate also. Thus faith, 
it is armour upon armour, a grace that preserves all the other graces. William 


Verses 1, 2. Prayer in its threefold form. " Words, meditation, cry." Showing 
how utterance is of no avail without heart, but that fervent longings and silent 
desires are accepted, even when unexpressed. 

Verse 3. The excellence of morning devotion. 

Verse 3 (last two clauses). 1. Prayer directed. 2. Answers expected. 

Verse 4. God s hatred of sin an example to his people. 

Verse 5." The foolish." Show why sinners are justly called fools. 

Verse 7. " Multitude of thy mercy." Dwell upon the varied grace and goodness 
of God. 

Verse 1. The devout resolution. 

Verse 7. I. Observe the singularity of the resolution. II. Mark the object of 
the resolution. It regards the service of God in the sanctuary. " I will come into 

thine house in thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple." III. The 

manner in which he would accomplish the resolution. (1) Impressed with a sense 
of the divine goodness : " I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy." 
(2) Filled with holy veneration : " And in thy fear will I worship." William Jay, 

Verse 8. God s guidance needed always, and especially when enemies are 
watching us. 

Verse 10. Viewed as a threatening. The sentence, " Cast them out in the 
multitude of their transgressions," is specially fitted to be the groundwork of a 
very solemn discourse. 

Verse 11. I. The character of the righteous : faith and love. II. The privileges 
of the righteous. (1) Joy great, pure, satisfying, triumphant (shout), constant 
\ever). (2) Defence by power, providence, angels, grace, etc. 

Verse 11. Joy in the Lord both a duty and a privilege. 

Verse 12 (first clause). The divine blessing upon the righteous. It is ancient, 
effectual, constant, extensive, irreversible, surpassing, eternal, infinite. 

Verse 12 (second clause). A sense of divine favour a defence to the soul. 


TITLE. This Psalm is commonly known as the first of THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS,* 
and certainly its language well becomes the lip of a penitent, for it expresses at once 
the sorrow (verses 3, 6, 7), the humiliation (verses 2 and 4), and the hatred of sin (verse 
8), which are the unfailing marks of the contrite spirit when it turns to God. O Holy 
Spirit, beget in us the true repentance which needeth not to be repented of. The title 
of this Psalm is, " To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith,J A Psalm 
of David," that is, to the chief musician with stringed instruments, upon the eight, 
probably the octave. Some think it refers to the bass or tenor key, which would cer 
tainly be well adapted to this mournful ode. But we are not able to understand these 
old musical terms, and even the term " Selah," still remains untranslated. This, how 
ever, should be no difficulty in our way. We probably lose but very little by our ignorance, 
and it may serve to confirm our faith. It is a proof of the high antiquity of these Psalms 
that they contain words, the meaning of which is lost even to the best scholars of the Hebrew 
language. Surely these are but incidental (accidental I might almost say, if I did not 
believe them to be designed by God), proofs of their being, what they profess to be, the 
ancient writings of King David of olden times. 

DIVISION. You will observe that the Psalm is readily divided into two parts. First, 
there is the Psalmist s plea in his great distress, reaching from the first to the end of the 
seventh verse. Then you have, from the eighth to the end, quite a different theme. The 
Psalmist has changed his note. He leaves the minor key, and betakes himself to sublime 
strains. He tunes his note to the high key of confidence, and declares that God hath 
heard his prayer, and hath delivered him out of all his troubles. 


/^"\ LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot 
^^ displeasure. 

2 Have mercy upon me, O LORD ; for I am weak : O LORD, heal me ; 
for my bones are vexed. 

3 My soul is also sore vexed : but thou, O LORD, how long ? 

4 Return, LORD, deliver my soul : oh save me for thy mercies sake. 

5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee : in the grave who shall 
give thee thanks ? 

6 I am weary with my groaning ; all the night make I my bed to swim ; I 
water my couch with my tears. 

7 Mine eye is consumed because of grief ; it waxeth old because of all 
mine enemies. 

Having read through the first division, in order to see it as a whole, we will now 
look at it verse by verse. " O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger." The Psalmist 
is very conscious that he deserves to be rebuked, and he feels, moreover, that the 
rebuke in some form or other must come upon him, if not for condemnation, yet for 
conviction and sanctification. " Corn is cleaned with wind, and the soul with 
chastenings." It were folly to pray against the golden hand which enriches us by 
its blows. He does not ask that the rebuke may be totally withheld, for he might 
thus lose a blessing in disguise ; but, " Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger." If 
thou remindest me of my sin, it is good ; but, oh, remind me not of it as one incensed 
against me, lest thy servant s heart should sink in despair. Thus saith Jeremiah, 
" O Lord, correct me, but with judgment ; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me 
to nothing." I know that I must be chastened, and though I shrink from the rod 
yet do I feel that it will be for my ben fit ; but, oh, my God, " chasten me not in thy 
hot displeasure," lest the rod become a sword, and lest in smiting, thou shouldest also 
kill. So may we pray that the chasl Cements of our gracious God, if they may not 

* The other six are, xxxii., xxxviii., li., cii., cxxx., cxliii. t i Chron. xv. at. 


be entirely removed, may at least be sweetened by the consciousness that they are 
" not in anger, but in his dear covenant love." 

2, 3. " Have mercy upon me, Lord ; for I am weak." Though I deserve 
destruction, yet let thy mercy pity my frailty. This is the right way to plead with 
God if we would prevail. Urge not your goodness or your greatness, but plead 
your sin and your littleness. Cry, " / am weak," therefore O Lord, give me strength 
and crush me not. Send not forth the fury of thy tempest against so weak a vessel. 
Temper tke wind to the shorn lamb. Be tender and pitiful to a poor withering 
flower, and break it not from its stem. Surely this is the plea that a sick man would 
urge to move the pity of his fellow if he were striving with him, " Deal gently with 
me, for I am weak. " A sense of sin had so spoiled the Psalmist s pride, so taken 
away his vaunted strength, that he found himself weak to obey the law, weak through 
the sorrow that was in him, too weak, perhaps, to lay hold on the promise. " I am 
weak." The original may be read, " I am one who droops," or withered like a 
blighted plant. Ah 1 beloved, we know what this means, for we, too, have seen 
our glory stained, and our beauty like a faded flower. 

" O Lord heal me ; for my bones are vexed." Here he prays for healing, not 
merely the mitigation of the ills he endured, but their entire removal, and the curing 
of the wounds which had arisen therefrom. His bones were " shaken, as the Hebrew 
has it. His terror had become so great that his very bones shook ; not only did his 
flesh quiver, but the bones, the solid pillars of the house of manhood, were made to 
tremble. " My bones are shaken." Ah, when the soul has a sense of sin, it is 
enough to make the bones shake ; it is enough to make a man s hair stand up on 
end to see the flames of hell beneath him, an angry God above him, and danger and 
doubt surrounding him. Well might he say, " My bones are shaken." Lest, how 
ever, we should imagine that it was merely bodily sickness although bodily sickness 
might be the outward sign the Psalmist goes on to say, " My soul is also sore vexed." 
Soul-trouble is the very soul of trouble. It matters not that the bones shake if 
the soul be firm, but when the soul itself is also sore vexed this is agony indeed. 
" But thou, Lord, how long ? " This sentence ends abruptly, for words failed, and 
grief drowned the little comfort which dawned upon him. The Psalmist had still, 
however, some hope ; but that hope was only in his God. He therefore cries, " O 
Lord, how long ? " The coming of Christ into the soul in his priestly robes of grace 
is the grand hope of the penitent soul ; and, indeed, in some form or other, Christ s 
appearance is, and ever has been, the hope of the saints. 

Calvin s favourite exclamation was " Domine usque quo" " Lord, how long ?" 
Nor could his sharpest pains, during a life of anguish, force from him any other word. 
Surely this is the cry of the saints under the altar, " O Lord, how long ? " And this 
should be the cry of the saints waiting for the millennial glories, " Why are his 
chariots so long in coming ; Lord, how long ? " Those of us who have passed 
through conviction of sin knew what it was to count our minutes hours, and our 
hours years, while mercy delayed its coming. We watched for the dawn of grace, 
as they that watch for the morning. Earnestly did our anxious spirits ask, " O 
Lord, how long ? " 

4 " Return, O Lord ; deliver my soul." As God s absence was the main cause 
of his misery, so his return would be enough to deliver him from his trouble. " Oh 
save me for thy mercies sake." He knows where to look, and what arm to lay hold 
upon. He does not lay hold on God s left hand of justice, but on his right hand of 
mercy. He knew his iniquity too well to think of merit, or appeal to anything but 
the grace of God. 

"For thy mercies sake." What a plea that is! How prevalent it is with God! 
If we turn to justice, what plea can we urge ? but if we turn to mercy we may still 
cry, notwithstanding the greatness of our guilt, " Save me for thy mercies sake." 

Observe how frequently David here pleads the name of Jehovah, which is always 
intended where the word LORD is given in capitals. Five times in four verses we 
here meet with it. Is not this a proof that the glorious name is full of consolation 
to the tempted saint ? Eternity, Infinity, Immutability, Self-existence, are all in 
the name Jehovah, and all are full of comfort. 

5. And now David was in great fear of death death temporal, and perhaps 
death eternal. Read the passage as you will, the following verse is full of power. 
" For in death there is no remembrance of thee ; in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" 
Churchyards are silent places ; the vaults of the sepulchre echo not with songs. 
Damp earth covers dumb mouths. " O Lord ? " said he, " if thou wilt spare me I 


will praise thee. If I die, then must my mortal praise at least be suspended ; and 
if I perish in hell, then thou wilt never have any thanksgiving from me. Songs of 
gratitude cannot rise from the flaming pit of hell. True, thou wilt doubtless be glorified, 
even in my eternal condemnation, but then, O Lord, I cannot glorify thee volun 
tarily ; and among the sons of men, there will be one heart the less to bless thee." 
Ah 1 poor trembling sinners, may the Lord help you to use this forcible argument. 
It is for God s glory that a sinner should be saved. When we seek pardon, we are 
not asking God to do that which will stain his banner, or put a blot on his escutcheon. 
He delighteth in mercy. It is his peculiar, darling attribute. Mercy honours God. 
Do not we ourselves say, " Mercy blesseth him that gives, and him that takes ? " 
And surely, in some diviner sense, this is true of God, who, when he gives mercy, 
glorifies himself. 

6, 7. The Psalmist gives a fearful description of his long agony : " I am weary 
with my groaning." He had groaned till his throat was hoarse ; he had cried for 
mercy till prayer became a labour. God s people may groan, but they may not 
grumble. Yea, they must groan, being burdened, or they will never shout in the 
day of deliverance. The next sentence, we think, is not accurately translated. 
It should be, " / shall make my bed to swim every night," (when nature needs rest, 
and when I am most alone with my God). That is to say, my grief is fearful even 
now, but if God do not soon save me, it will not stay of itself, but will increase, until 
my tears will be so many, that my bed itself shall swim. A description rather of 
what he feared would be, than of what had actually taken place. May not our 
forebodings of future woe become arguments which faith may urge when seeking 
present mercy ? " / water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because 
of grief ; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies." As an old man s eye grows 
dhn with years, so says David, my eye is grown red and feeble through weeping. 
Conviction sometimes has such an effect upon the body, that even the outward 
organs are made to suffer. May not this explain some of the convulsions and 
hysterical attacks which have been experienced under convictions in the revivals in 
Ireland ? Is it surprising that some should be smitten to the earth, and begin to 
cry aloud ; when we find that David himself made his bed to swim, and grew old 
while he was under the heavy hand of God ? Ah I brethren, it is no light matter 
to feel one s self a sinner, condemned at the bar of God. The language of this Psalm 
is not strained and forced, but perfectly natural to one in so sad a plight. 

8 Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity ; for the LORD hath heard 
the voice of my weeping. 

9 The LORD hath heard my supplication ; the LORD will receive my prayer. 

10 Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed : let them return and 
be ashamed suddenly. 

8. Hitherto, all has been mournful and disconsolate, but now- 

" Your harps, ye trembling saints, 
Down from the willows take." 

Ye must have your times of weeping, but let them be short. Get ye up, get ye up, 
from your dunghills 1 Cast aside your sackcloth and ashes ! Weeping may endure 
for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. 

David has found peace, and rising from his knees he begins to sweep his house 
of the wicked. " Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." The best remedy for 
us against an evil man is a long space between us both. " Get ye gone ; I can have 
no fellowship with you." Repentance is a practical thing. It is not enough to 
bemoan the desecration of the temple of the heart, we must scourge out the buyers 
and sellers, and overturn the tables of the money changers. A pardoned sinner 
will hate the sins which cost the Saviour his blood. Grace and sin are quarrelsome 
neighbours, and one or the other must go to the wall. 

" For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." What a fine Hebraism, 
and what grand poetry it is in English I " He hath heard the voice of my weeping." 
Is there a voice in weeping ? Does weeping speak ? In what language doth it 
utter its meaning? Why, in that universal tongue which is known and under 
stood in all the earth, and even in heaven above. When a man weeps, whether 
he be a Jew or Gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, it has the same meaning 
in it. Weeping is the eloquence of sorrow. It is an unstammering orator, needing 


no interpreter, but understood of all. Is it not sweet to believe that our tears are 
understood even when words fail ! Let us learn to think of tears as liquid prayers, 
and of weeping as a constant dropping of importunate intercession which will wear 
its way right surely into the very heart of mercy, despite the stony difficulties which 
obstruct the way. My God, I will " weep " when I cannot plead, for thou hearest 
the voice of my weeping. 

9. " The Lord hath heard my supplication." The Holy Spirit had wrought into 
the Psalmist s mind the confidence that his prayer was heard. This is frequently 
the privilege of the saints. Praying the prayer of faith, they are often infallibly 
assured that they have prevailed with God. We read of Luther that, having on 
one occasion wrestled hard with God in prayer, he came leaping out of his closet 
crying, " Vicimus, vicimus;" that is, "We have conquered, we have prevailed with 
God." Assured confidence is no idle dream, for when the Holy Ghost bestows it 
upon us, we know its reality, and could not doubt it, even though all men should 
deride our boldness. " The Lord will receive my prayer." Here is past experience 
used for future encouragement. He hath, he will. Note this, O believer, and imitate 
its reasoning. 

10. " Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed." This is rather a prophecy 
than an imprecation, it may be read in the future. " All my enemies shall be 
ashamed and sore vexed." They shall return and be ashamed instantaneously, in a 
moment ; their doom shall come upon them suddenly. Death s day is doom s 
day, and both are sure and may be sudden. The Romans were wont to say, " The 
feet of the avenging Deity are shod with wool." With noiseless" footsteps vengeance 
nears its victim, and sudden and overwhelming shall be its destroying stroke. If this 
were an imprecation, we must remember that the language of the old dispensation 
is not that of the new. We pray for our enemies, not against them. God have 
mercy on them, and bring them into the right way. 

Thus the Psalm, like those which precede it, shows the different estates of the 
godly and the wicked. O Lord, let us be numbered with thy people, both now and for 
ever ! 


Whole Psalm. David was a man that was often exercised with sickness and 
troubles from enemies, and in all the instances almost that we meet with in the 
Psalms of these his afflictions, we may observe the outward occasions of trouble 
brought him under the suspicion of God s wrath and his own iniquity ; so that he 
was seldom sick, or persecuted, but this called on the disquiet of conscience, and 
brought his sin to remembrance ; as in this Psalm, which was made on the occasion 
of his sickness, as appears from verse eight, wherein he expresseth the vexation of 
his soul under the apprehension of God s anger ; all his other griefs running into 
this channel, as little brooks, losing themselves in a great river, change their 
name and nature. He that was at first only concerned for his sickness, is now 
wholly concerned with sorrow and smart under the fear and hazard of his soul s 
condition ; the like we may see in Psalm xxxviii, and many places more. Richard 
Gilpin, 1677. 

Verse 1. " Rebuke me not." God hath two means by which he reduceth his 
children to obedience ; his word, by which he rebukes them ; and his rod, by which 
he chastiseth them. The word precedes, admonishing them by his servants whom 
he hath sent in all ages to call sinners to repentance : of the which David himself 
saith, " Let the righteous rebuke me ; " and as a father doth first rebuke his disordered 
child, so doth the Lord speak to them. But when men neglect the warnings of 
his word, then God as a good father, takes up the rod and beats them. Our Saviour 
wakened the three disciples in the garden three times, but seeing that served not, he 
told them that Judas and his band were coming to awaken them whom his own 
Toice could not waken. A. Symson, 1638. 

Verse 1. " Jehovah, rebuke me not in thine anger," etc. He does not altogether 
refuse punishment, for that would be unreasonable ; and to be without it, he judged 
would be more hurtful than beneficial to him ; but what he is afraid of is the wrath 


of God, which threatens sinners with ruin and perdition. To anger and indignation 
David tacitly opposes fatherly and gentle chastisement, and this last he was witting 
to bear. John Calvin, 15091564. 

Verse 1. " Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger." 

The anger of the Lord ? Oh, dreadful thought I 

How can a creature frail as man endure 

The tempest of his wrath ? Ah, whither flee 

To scape the punishment he well deserves ? 

Flee to the cross ! the great atonement there 

Will shield the sinner, if he supplicate 

For pardon with repentance true and deep, 

And faith that questions not. Then will the frown 

Of anger pass off the face of God, 

Like a black tempest cloud that hides the sun. Anon. 

Verse 1. " Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger," etc. ; that is, do not lay upon 
me that thou hast threatened in thy law ; where anger is not put for the decree, 
nor the execution, but for the denouncing. So (Matt. iii. 11, and so Hos. xi. 9), 
" I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger," that is, I will not execute my 
wrath as I have declared it. Again, it is said, he executes punishment on the 
wicked ; he declares it not only, but executeth it, so anger is put for the execution 
of anger. Richard Stock, 1641. 

Verse 1. " Neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure." 

O keep up life and peace within. 

If I must feel thy chastening rod ! 

Yet kill not me, but kill my sin, 

And let me know thou art my God. 

O give my soul some sweet foretaste 

Of that which I shall shortly see ! 

Let faith and love cry to the last, 

" Come, Lord, I trust myself with thee ! " 

Richard Baxter, 16151691. 

Verse 2. " Have mercy upon me, O Lord." To fly and escape the anger of 
God, David sees no means in heaven or in earth, and therefore retires himself to 
God, even to him who wounded him that he might heal him. He flies not with 
Adam to the bush, nor with Saul to the witch, nor with Jonah to Tarshish ; but 
he appeals from an angry and just God to a merciful God, and from himself to 
himself. The woman who was condemned by King Philip, appealed from Philip 
being drunken to Philip being sober. But David appeals from one virtue, justice, 
to another, mercy. There may be appellation from the tribunal of man to the 
justice-seat of God ; but when thou art indicted before God s justice-seat, whither 
or to whom wilt thou go but to himself and his mercy-seat, which is the highest 
and last place of appellation ? "I have none in heaven but thee, nor in earth besides 
thee." .... David, under the name of mercy, includeth all things, according to 
that of Jacob to his brother Esau, " I have gotten mercy, and therefore I have gotten 
all things." Desirest thou any thing at God s hands ? Cry for mercy, out of which 
fountain all good things will spring to thee. Archibald Symson. 

Verse 2. " For I am weak." Behold, what rhetoric he useth to move God 
to cure him, " / am weak," an argument taken from his weakness, which indeed 
were a weak argument to move any man to show his favour, but is a strong 
argument to prevail with God. If a diseased person would come to a physician, 
and only lament the heaviness of his sickness, he would say, God help thee ; or 
an oppressed person come to a lawyer, and show him the estate of his action and 
ask his advice, that is a golden question ; or to a merchant to crave raiment, he 
will either have present money or a surety ; or a courtier favour, you must have 
your reward ready in your hand. But coming before God the most forcible argument 
that ye can use is your necessity, poverty, tears, misery, unworthiness, and confessing 

them to him, it shall be an open door to furnish you with all things that he hath 

The tears of our misery are forcible arrows to pierce the heart of our heavenly 
Father, to deliver us and pity our hard case. The beggars lay open their sores 
to the view of the world, that the more they may move men to pity them. So 
let us deplore our miseries to God, that he, with the pitiful Samaritan, at the sight 
of our wounds, may help us in due time. Archibald Symson. 


Verse 2. " Heal me," etc. David comes not to take physic upon wanton 
ness, but because the disease is violent, because the accidents are vehement ; so 
vehement, so violent, as that it hath pierced ad ossa, and ad animam, " My bones 
are vexed, and my soul is sore troubled," therefore " heal me ; " which is the reason 
upon which he grounds this second petition, " Heal me, because my bones are vexed," 
etc. John Donne. 

Verse 2. " My bones are vexed." The Lord can make the strongest and most 
insensible part of man s body sensible of his wrath when he pleaseth to touch him, 
for here David s bones are vexed. David Dickson. 

Verse 2. The term " bones " frequently occurs in the psalms, and if we examine 
we shall find it used in three different senses. (1.) It is sometimes applied literally 
to our blessed Lord s human body, to the body which hung upon the cross, as, 
" They pierced my hands and my feet ; I may tell all my bones." (2.) It has 
sometimes also a further reference to his mystical body the church. And then 
it denotes all the members of Christ s body that stand firm in the faith, that cannot 
be moved by persecutions, or temptations, however severe, as, " All my bones 
shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee ? " (3.) In some passages the term bones 
is applied to the soul, and not to the body, to the inner man of the individual Christian. 
Then it implies the strength and fortitude of the soul, the determined courage 
which faith in God gives to the righteous. This is the sense in which it is used in 
the second verse of Psalm vi., " Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed." Augustine, 
Ambrose, and Chrysostom ; quoted by F. H. Dunwell, B.A., in " Parochial Lectures 
on the Psalms," 1855. 

Verse 3. " My soul." Yokefellows in sin are yokefellows in pain ; the soul 
is punished for informing, the body for performing, and as both the informer and 
performer, the cause and the instrument, so shall the stirrer up of sin and the executer 
of it be punished. John Donne. 

Verse 3. " O Lord, how long ? " Out of this we have three things to observe ; 
first, that there is an appointed time which God hath measured for the crosses 
of all his children, before which time they shall not be delivered, and for which 
they must patiently attend, not thinking to prescribe time to God for their delivery, 
or limit the Holy One of Israel. The Israelites remained in Egypt till the complete 
number of lour hundred and thirty years were accomplished. Joseph was three 
years and more in the prison till the appointed time of his delivery came. The 
Jews remained seventy years in Babylon. So that as the physician appointeth 
certain times to the patient, both wherein he must fast, and be dieted, and wherein 
he must take recreation, so God knoweth the convenient times both of our humiliation 
and exaltation. Next, see the impatiency of our nature in our miseries, our flesh 
still rebelling against the Spirit, which oftentimes forgetteth itself so far, that it 
will enter into reasoning with God, and quarrelling with him as we may read of 
Job, Jonas, etc., and here also of David. Thirdly, albeit the Lord delay his coming 
to relieve his saints, yet hath he great cause if we could ponder it ; for when we were 
in the heat of our sins, many times he cried by the mouth of his prophets and servants, 
" O fools, how long will you continue in your folly ? " And we would not hear ; 
and therefore when we are in the heat of our pains, thinking long, yea, every day 
a year till we be delivered, no wonder it is if God will not hear ; let us consider 
with ourselves the just dealing of God with us ; that as he cried and we would not 
hear, so now we cry, and he will not hear. A. Symson. 

Verse 3. " Lord, how long?" As the saints in heaven have their usque quo, 
how long, Lord, holy and true, before thou begin to execute judgment ? So, 
the saints on earth have their usque quo. How long, Lord, before thou take off 
the execution of this judgment upon us ? For, our deprecatory prayers are not 
mandatory, they are not directory, they appoint not God his ways, or his times ; 
but as our postulatory prayers are, they also are submitted to the will of God, and 
have all in them that ingredient, that herb of grace, which Christ put into his own 
prayer, that veruntamen, yet not my will, but thy will be fulfilled ; and they have 
that ingredient which Christ put into our prayer, fiat voluntas, thy will be done in 
earth as it is in heaven ; in heaven there is no resisting of his will ; yet in heaven 
there is a soliciting, a hastening, an accelerating of the judgment, and the glory of 
the resurrection ; so though we resist not his corrections here upon earth, we may 
humbly present to God the sense which we have of his displeasure, for this sense 
and apprehension of his corrections is one of the principal reasons why he sends 


them ; he corrects us therefore that we might be sensible of his corrections ; that 
when we, being humbled under his hand, have said with his prophet, " I will bear 
the wrath of the Lord because I have sinned against him " (Mic. vii. 9), he may be 
pleased to say to his correcting angel, as he did to his destroying angel, This is 
enough, and so burn his rod now, as he put up his sword then. John Donne. 

Verse 4. " Return, Lord, deliver my soul," etc. In this his besieging of 
God, he brings up his works from afar off, closer ; he begins in this Psalm, at a 
deprecatory prayer ; he asks nothing, but that God would do nothing, that he 
would forbear him rebuke me not, correct me not. Now, it costs the king less to 
give a pardon than to give a pension, and less to give a reprieve than to give a pardon, 
and less to connive, not to call in question, than either reprieve, pardon, or pension ; 
to forbear is not much. But then as the mathematician said, that he could make 
an engine, a screw, that should move the whole frame of the world, if he could have 
a place assigned him to fix that engine, that screw upon, so that it might work 
upon the world ; so prayer, when one petition hath taken hold upon God, works 
upon God, moves God, prevails with God, entirely for all. David then having got 
this ground, this footing in God, he brings his works closer ; he comes from the 
deprecatory to a postulatory prayer ; not only that God would do nothing against 
him, but that he would do something for him. God hath suffered man to see Arcana 
imperil, the secrets of his state, how he governs he governs by precedent ; by 
precedents of his predecessors, he cannot, he hath none ; by precedents of other 
gods he cannot, there are none ; and yet he proceeds by precedents, by his own 
precedents, he does as he did before, habenti dat, to him that hath received he gives 
more, and is willing to be wrought and prevailed upon, and pressed with his own 
example. And, as though his doing good were but to learn how to do good better, 
still he writes after his own copy, and nulla dies sine linea. He writes something to 
us, that is, he doth something for us every day. And then, that which is not often 
seen in other masters, his copies are better than the originals ; his latter mercies 
larger than his former ; and in this postulatory prayer, larger than the deprecatory, 
enters our text, " Return, O Lord ; deliver my soul : save me," etc. John Donne. 

Verse 5. " For m death there is no remembrance of thee, in the grave who will 
give thee thanks ? " Lord, be thou pacified and reconciled to me . . . for shouldst 
thou now proceed to take away my life, as it were a most direful condition for me 
to die before I have propitiated thee, so I may well demand what increase of glory 
or honour will it bring unto thee ? Will it not be infinitely more glorious for thee 
to spare me, till by true contrition I may regain thy favour ? and then I may 
live to praise and magnify thy mercy and thy grace : thy mercy in pardoning so 
great a sinner, and then confess thee by vital actions of all holy obedience for the 
future, and so demonstrate the power of thy grace which hath wrought this change 
in me ; neither of which will be done by destroying me, but only thy just judgments 
manifested in thy vengeance on sinners. Henry Hammond, D.D., 1659. 

Verse 6. "/ fainted in my mourning." It may seem a marvellous change 
in David, being a man of such magnitude of mind, to be thus dejected and cast 
down. Prevailed he not against Goliath, against the lion and the bear, through 
fortitude and magnanimity ? But now he is sobbing, sighing, and weeping as a 
child ! The answer is easy ; the diverse persons with whom he hath to do occasioneth 
the same. When men and beasts are his opposites, then he is more than a conqueror ; 
but when he hath to do with God against whom he sinned, then he is less than nothing. 

Verse 6. " / caused my bed to swim." .... Showers be better than dews, yet 
it is sufficient if God at least hath bedewed our hearts, and hath given us some 
sign of a penitent heart. If we have not rivers of waters to pour forth with David, 
neither fountains flowing with Mary Magdalen, nor as Jeremy, desire to have a 
fountain in our head to weep day and night, nor with Peter weep bitterly ; yet 
if we lament that we cannot lament, and mourn that we cannot mourn : yea, if 
we have the smallest sobs of sorrow and tears of compunction, if they be true and 
not counterfeit, they will make us acceptable to God ; for as the woman with the 
bloody issue that touched the hem of Christ s garment, was no less welcome to 
Christ than Thomas, who put his fingers in the print of the nails ; so, Godjooketh 
not at the quantity, but the sincerity of our repentance. 

Verse 6. " My bed." The place of his sin is the place of his repentance, and so 


it should be ; yea, when we behold the place where we have offended, we should 
be pricked in the heart, and there again crave him pardon. As Adam sinned in 
the garden, and Christ sweat bloody tears in the garden. " Examine your hearts 
upon your beds, and convert unto the Lord ; " and whereas ye have stretched 
forth yourselves upon your bed to devise evil things, repent there and make them 
sanctuaries to God. Sanctify by your tears every place which ye have polluted 
by sin. And let us seek Christ Jesus on our own bed, with the spouse in the Canticles, 
who saith, " By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth." Archibald 

Verse 6. " / water my couch with tears." Not only I wash, but also I water. 
The faithful sheep of the great Shepherd go up from the washing place, every one 
bringeth forth twins, and none barren among them. Cant. iv. 2. For so Jacob s 
sheep, having conceived at the watering troughs, brought forth strong and party- 
coloured lambs. David likewise, who before had erred and strayed like a lost 
sheep, making here his bed a washing place, by so much the less is barren in obedience, 
by how much the more he is fruitful in repentance. In Solomon s temple stood the 
caldrons of brass, to wash the flesh of those beasts which where to be sacrificed 
on the altar. Solomon s father maketh a water of his tears, a caldron of his bed, 
an altar of his heart, a sacrifice, not of the flesh of unreasonable beasts, but of his 
own body, a living sacrifice, which is his reasonable serving of God. Now the 
Hebrew word here used signifies properly, to cause to swim, which is more than 
simply to wash. And thus the Geneva translation readeth it, I cause my bed every 
night to swim. So that as the priests used to swim in the molten sea, that they 
might be pure and clean, against they performed the holy rites and services of the 
temple, in like manner the princely prophet washeth his bed, yea, he swimmeth 
in his bed, or rather he causeth his bed to swim in tears, as in a sea of grief and 
penitent sorrow for his sin. Thomas Playfere, 1604. 

Verse 6. " / water my couch with my tears." Let us water our bed every night 
with our tears. Do not only blow upon it with intermissive blasts, for then like 
fire, it will resurge and flame the more. Sin is like a stinking candle newly put 
out, it is soon lighted again. It may receive a wound, but like a dog it will easily 
lick itself whole ; a little forbearance multiplies it like Hydra s heads. Therefore, 
whatsoever aspersion the sin of the day has brought upon us, let the tears of the 
night wash away. Thomas Adams. 

Verses 6, 7. Soul-trouble is attended usually with great pain of body too, and 
so a man is wounded and distressed in every part. There is no soundness in 
my flesh, because of thine anger, says David. " The arrows of the Almighty are 
within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit." Job vi. 4. Sorrow of heart 
contracts the natural spirits, making all their motions slow and feeble ; and the 
poor afflicted body does usually decline and waste away ; and, therefore, saith 
Heman, " My soul is full of troubles, and my life draweth nigh unto the grave." 
In this inward distress we find our strength decay and melt, even as wax before 
the fire, for sorrow darkeneth the spirits, obscures the judgment, blinds the memory 
as to all pleasant things, and beclouds the lucid part of the mind, causing the lamp 
of life to burn weakly. In this troubled condition the person cannot be without 
a countenance that is pale, and wan, and dejected, like one that is seized with strong 
fear and consternation ; all his motions are sluggish, and no sprightliness nor activity 
remains. A merry heart doth good, like a medicine ; but a broken spirit drieth 
the bones. Hence come those frequent complaints in Scripture : My moisture 
is turned into the drought of the summer : I am like a bottle in the smoke ; my 
soul cleaveth unto the dust : my face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelid is 
the shadow of death. Job xvi. 16, xxx. 17, 18 19. My bones are pierced in me, 
in the night season, and my sinews take no rest ; by the great force of my disease 
is my garment changed. He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like 
dust and ashes. Many times indeed the trouble of the soul does begin from the 
weakness and indisposition of the body. Long affliction, without any prospect of 
remedy, does, in process of time, begin to distress the soul itself. David was a 
man often exercised with sickness and the rage of enemies ; and in all the instances 
almost that we meet with in the Psalms, we may observe that the outward occasions 
of trouble brought him under an apprehension of the wrath of God for his sin. 
(Psalm vi. 1, 2 ; and the reasons given, verses 5 and 6.) All his griefs running 
into this most terrible thought, that God was his enemy. As little brooks lose 
themselves in a great river, and change their name and nature, it most frequently 


happens, that when our pain is long and sharp, and helpless and unavoidable, we 
begin to question the sincerity of our estate towards God, though at its first assault 
we had few doubts or fears about it. Long weakness of body makes the soul more 
susceptible of trouble, and uneasy thoughts. Timothy Rogers on Trouble of Mind. 

Verse 7. " Mine eye is consumed." Many make those eyes which God hath 
given them, as it were two lighted candles to let them see to go to hell ; and for 
this God in justice requiteth them, that seeing their minds are blinded by the lust 
of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, God I say, sendeth sickness 
to debilitate their eyes which were so sharp-sighted in the devil s service, and their 
lust now causeth them to want the necessary sight of their body. 

Verse 7. " Mine enemies." The pirates seeing an empty bark, pass by it ; 
but if she be loaded with precious wares, then they will assault her. So, if a man 
have no grace within him, Satan passeth by him, as not a convenient prey for him, 
but being loaded with graces, as the love of God, his fear, and such other spiritual 
virtues, let him be persuaded that according as he knows what stuff is in him, so 
will he not fail to rob him of them, if in any case he may. Archibald Symson. 

Verse 7. That eye of his that had looked and lusted after his neighbour s wife 
is now dimmed and darkened with grief and indignation. He had wept himself 
almost blind. John Trapp. 

Verse 8. " Depart from me," etc., i.e., you may now go your way ; for that 
which you look for, namely, my death, you shall not have at this present ; for 
the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping, i.e., has graciously granted me that 
which with tears I asked of him. Thomas Wilcocks. 

Verse 8. " Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity." May not too much 
familiarity with profane wretches be justly charged upon church members ? I 
know man is a sociable creature, but that will not excuse saints as to their care 
lessness of the choice of their company. The very fowls of the air, and beasts 
of the field, love not heterogeneous company. " Birds of a feather flock together." 
I have been afraid that many who would be thought eminent, of a high stature 
in grace and godliness, yet see not the vast difference there is between nature and 
regeneration, sin and grace, the old and the new man, seeing all company is alike 
unto them. Lewis Stuckley s " Gospel Glass," 1667. 

Verse 8. " The voice of my weeping." Weeping hath a voice, and as music 
upon the water sounds farther and more harmoniously than upon the land, so 
prayers, joined with tears, cry louder in God s ears, and make sweeter music than 
when tears are absent. When Antipater had written a large letter against 
Alexander s mother unto Alexander, the king answered him, " One tear from my 
mother will wash away all her faults." So it is with God. A penitent tear is an 
undeniable ambassador, and never returns from the throne of grace unsatisfied. 
Spencer s Things New and Old. 

Verse 8. The wicked are called " workers of iniquity, because they are free 
and ready to sin, they have a strong tide and bent of spirit to do evil, and they 
do it not to halves but throughly ; they do not only begin or nibble at the bait 
a little (as a good man often doth), but greedily swallow it down, hook and all ; 
they are fully in it, and do it fully ; they make a work of it, and so are " workers of 
iniquity." Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 8. Some may say, " My constitution is such that I cannot weep ; I may 
as well go to squeeze a rock, as think to get a tear." But if thou canst not weep 
for sin, canst thou grieve ? Intellectual mourning is best ; there may be sorrow 
where there are no tears, the vessel may be full though it wants vent ; it is not so 
much the weeping eye God respects as the broken heart ; yet I would be loath 
to stop their tears who can weep. God stood looking on Hezekiah s tears (Isaiah 
xxxviii. 5), " I have seen thy tears." David s tears made music in God s ears, 
" The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." It is a sight fit for angels to behold, 
tears as pearls dropping from a penitent eye. T. Watson. 

Verse 8. " The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping." God hears the 
voice of our looks, God hears the voice of our tears sometimes better than the 
voice of our words ; for it is the Spirit itself that makes intercession for us. Rom. 
viii. 26. Gemitibus inenarrabilibus, in those groans, and so in those tears, which we 
cannot utter ; ineloquacibus, as Tertullian reads that place, devout, and simple 
tears, which cannot speak, speak aloud in the ears of God ; nay, tears which we 


cannot utter ; not only not utter the force of the tears, but not utter very 
tears themselves. As God sees the water in the spring in the veins of the earth 
before it bubble upon the face of the earth, so God sees tears in the heart of a man 
before they blubber his face ; God hears the tears of that sorrowful soul, which 
for sorrow cannot shed tears. From this casting up of the eyes, and pouring out 
the sorrow of the heart at the eyes, at least opening God a window through which 
he may see a wet heart through a dry eye ; from these overtures of repentance, 
which are as those imperfect sounds of words, which parents delight in, in their 
children, before they speak plain, a penitent sinner comes to a verbal and a more 
express prayer. To these prayers, these vocal and verbal prayers from David, 
God had given ear, and from this hearing of those prayers was David come to this 
thankful confidence, " The Lord hath heard, the Lord will hear." John Donne. 

Verse 8. What a strange change is here all on a sudden 1 Well might Luther 
say, " Prayer is the leech of the soul, that sucks out the venom and swelling thereof." 
" Prayer," said another, " is an exorcist with God, and an exorcist against sin and 
misery." Bernard saith, " How oft hath prayer found me despairing almost, 
but left me triumphing, and well assured of pardon I " The same in effect saith 
David here, " Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity ; for the Lord hath heard 
the voice of my weeping." What a word is that to his insulting enemies ! Avaunt ! 
come out ! vanish 1 These be words used to devils and dogs, but good enough 
for a Doeg or a Shimei. And the Son of David shall say the same to his enemies 
when he comes to judgment. John Trapp. 

Verse 9. " The Lord hath heard my supplication," etc. The Psalmist three 
times expresses his confidence of his prayers being heard and received, which may 
be either in reference to his having prayed so many times for help, as the apostle 
Paul did (2 Cor. xii. 8) ; and as Christ his antitype did (Matt. xxvi. 39, 42, 44) ; 
or to express the certainty of it, the strength of his faith in it, and the exuberance 
of his joy on account of it. John Gill, D.D., 1697 1771. 

Verse 10. " Let all mine enemies be ashamed," etc. If this were an impreca 
tion, a malediction, yet it was medicinal, and had ralionem boni, a charitable 
tincture and nature in it ; he wished the men no harm as men. But it is rather 
prsedictorium, a prophetical vehemence, that if they will take no knowledge of 
God s declaring himself in the protection of his servants, if they would not consider 
that God had heard, and would hear, had rescued, and would rescue his children, 
but would continue their opposition against him, heavy judgments would certainly 
fall upon them ; their punishment should be certain, but the effect should be un 
certain ; for God only knows whether his correction shall work upon his enemies to 
their mollifying, or to their obduration. ... In the second word, " Let them be sore 
vexed," he wishes his enemies no worse than himself had been, for he had used the 
same word of himself before, Ossa lurbata, My bones are vexed; and, Anima turbata, 
My soul is vexed ; and considering that David had found this vexation to be his 
way to God, it was no malicious imprecation to wish that enemy the same physic 
that he had taken, who was more sick of the same disease than he was. For this 
is like a troubled sea after a tempest ; the danger is past, but yet the billow is 
great still; the danger was in the calm, in the security, or in the tempest, by mis 
interpreting God s corrections to our obduration, and to a remorseless stupefaction; 
but when a man is come to his noiy vexation, to be troubled, to be shaken with 
the sense of the indignation of God, the storm is past, and the indignation of 
God is blown over. The soul is in a fair and near way of being restored to a 
calmness, and to reposed security of conscience that is come to this holy vexation.. 
John Donne. 

Verse 10. " Let all mine enemies [or all mine enemies shall] be ashamed, and 
sore vexed," etc. Many of the mournful Psalms end in this manner, to instruct 
the believer that he is continually to look forward, and solace himself with be 
holding that day, when his warfare shall be accomplished ; when sin and sorrow 
shall be no more ; when sudden and everlasting confusion shall cover the enemies 
of righteousness ; when the sackcloth of the penitent shall be exchanged for a 
robe of glory, and every tear become a sparkling gem in his crown ; when to sighs 
and groans shall succeed the songs of heaven, set to angelic harps, and faith shall 
be resolved ; nto the vision of the Almighty. George Home. 



Verse 1. A Sermon for afflicted souls. I. God s twofold dealings. (1) Rebuke 
by a telling sermon, a judgment on another, a slight trial in our own person, or 
a solemn monition in our conscience by the Spirit. (2) Chastening. This follows 
the other when the first is disregarded. Pain, losses, bereavements, melancholy, 
and other trials. II. The evils in them to be most dreaded, anger and hot dis 
pleasure. III. The means to avert these ills. Humiliation, confession, amendment, 
faith in the Lord, etc. 

Verse 1. The believer s greatest dread, the anger of God. What this fact 
reveals in the heart ? Why it is so ? What removes the fear ? 

Verse 2. The argumentum ad misericordiam. 

Verse 2. First sentence Divine healing. 1. What precedes it, my bones are 
vexed. 2. How it is wrought. 3. What succeeds it. 

Verse 3. The impatience of sorrow ; its sins, mischief, and cure. 

Verse 3. A fruitful topic may be found in considering the question, How long 
will God continue afflictions to the righteous ? 

Verse 4. " Return, Lord." A prayer suggested by a sense of the Lord s 
absence, excited by grace, attended with heart searching and repentance, backed 
by pressing danger, guaranteed as to its answer, and containing a request for all 

Verse 4. The prayer of the deserted saint. 1. His state : his soul is evidently 
in bondage and danger : 2. His hope: it is in the Lord s return. 3. His plea : mercy 

Verse 5. The final suspension of earthly service considered in various practical 

Verse 5. The duty of praising God while we live. 

Verse 6. Saints tears in quality, abundance, influence, assuagement, and 
final end. 

Verse 7. The voice of weeping. What it is. 

Verse 8. The pardoned sinner forsaking his bad companions. 

Verse 9. Past answers the ground of present confidence. He hath, he will. 

Verse 10. The shame reserved for the wicked. 


TITLE. " Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the words 
of Gush the Benjamite." " Shiggaion of David." As far as we can gather from the 
observations of learned men, and from a comparison of this Psalm with the only other 
Shiggaion in the Word of God (Hab. iii.), this title seems to mean "variable songs," 
with which also the idea of solace and pleasure is associated. Truly our life-psalm 
is composed of variable verses ; one stanza rolls along with the sublime metre of triumph, 
but another limps with the broken rhythm of complaint. There is much bass in the 
saint s music here below. Our experience is as variable as the weather in England. 

From the title we learn the occasion of the composition of this song. It appears 
probable that Cash the Benjamite had accused David to Saul of treasonable conspiracy 
against his royal authority. This the king would be ready enough to credit, both from 
his jealousy of David, and from the relation which most probably existed between himself, 
the son of Kish, and this Cush, or Kish, the Benjamite. He who is near the throne 
can do more injury to a subject than an ordinary slanderer. 

This may be called the SONG OF THE SLANDERED SAINT. Even this sorest of evils 
may furnish occasion for a Psalm. What a blessing would it be if we could turn even 
the most disastrous event into a theme for song, and so turn the tables upon our great 
enemy. Let us learn a lesson from Luther, who once said, " David made Psalms ; 
we also will make Psalms, and sing them as well as we can to the honour of our Lord, 
and to spite and mock the devil." 

DIVISION. In the first and second verses the danger is stated, and prayer offered. 
Then the Psalmist most solemnly avows his innocence (3, 4, 5). The Lord is pleaded 
with to arise to judgment (6, 7). The Lord, silling upon his throne, hears the renewed 
appeal of the Slandered Supplicant (8, 9). The Lord clears his servant, and threatens 
the wicked (10, 11, 12, 13). The slanderer is seen in vision bringing a curse upon 
his own head (14, 15, 16) while David retires from trial singing a hymn of praise to 
his righteous God. We have here a noble sermon upon that text : " No weapon that 
is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against thee in 
judgment thou shalt condemn." 


/"} LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust : save me from all them 
^^ that persecute me, and deliver me : 

2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none 
to deliver. 

David appears before God to plead with him against the Accuser, who had 
charged him with treason and treachery. The case is here opened with an 
avowal of confidence in God. Whatever may be the emergency of our condition 
we shall never find it amiss to retain our reliance upon our God. " Lord my 
God," mine by a special covenant, sealed by Jesus blood, and ratified in my own 
soul by a sense of union to thee ; " in thee," and in thee only, " do I put my trust," 
even now in my sore distress. I shake, but my rock moves not. It is never right 
to distrust God, and never vain to trust him. And now, with both divine relation 
ship and holy trust to strengthen him, David utters the burden of his desire 
" save me from all them that persecute me." His pursuers were very many, and 
any one of them cruel enough to devour him ; he cries, therefore, for salvation 
from them all. We should never think our prayers complete until we ask for 
preservation from all sin, and all enemies. " And deliver me," extricate me from 
their snares, acquit me of their accusations, give a true and just deliverance in 
this trial of my injured character. See how clearly his case is stated ; let us see 
to it, that we know what we would have when we are come to the throne of mercy. 
Pause a little while before you pray, that you may not offer the sacrifice of fools. 
Get a distinct idea of your need, and then you can pray with the more fluency of 

" Lest he tear my soul." Here is the plea of fear co-working with the plea of 
faith. There was one among David s foes mightier than the rest, who had both 


dignity, strength, and ferocity, and was, therefore, " like a lion." From this foe 
he urgently seeks deliverance. Perhaps this was Saul, his royal enemy ; but in 
our own case there is one who goes about like a lion, seeking whom he may 
devour, concerning whom we should ever cry, " Deliver us from the Evil One." 
Notice the vigour of the description " rending it in pieces, while there is none to 
deliver." It is a picture from the shepherd-life of David. When the fierce lion 
had pounced upon the defenceless lamb, and had made it his prey, he would rend 
the victim in pieces, break all the bones, and devour all, because no shepherd was 
near to protect the lamb or rescue it from the ravenous beast. This is a soul-moving 
portrait of a saint delivered over to the will of Satan. This will make the bowels 
of Jehovah yearn. A father cannot be silent when a child is in such peril. No, 
he will not endure the thought of his darling in the jaws of a lion, he will arise and 
deliver his persecuted one. Our God is very pitiful, and he will surely rescue his 
people from so desperate a destruction. It will be well for us here to remember 
that this is a description of the danger to which the Psalmist was exposed from 
slanderous tongues. Verily this is not an overdrawn picture, for the wounds of a 
sword will heal, but the wounds of the tongue cut deeper than the flesh, and are 
not soon cured. Slander leaves a slur, even if it be wholly disproved. Common 
fame, although notoriously a common liar, has very many believers. Once let an 
ill word get into men s mouths, and it is not easy to get it fully out again. The 
Italians say that good repute is like the cypress, once cut, it never puts forth leaf 
again ; this is not true if our character be cut by a stranger s hand, but even then 
it will not soon regain its former verdure. Oh, tis a meanness most detestable 
to stab a good man in his reputation, but diabolical hatred observes no nobility 
in its mode of warfare. We must be ready for this trial, for it will surely come 
upon us. If God was slandered in Eden, we shall surely be maligned in this land 
of sinners. Gird up your loins, ye children of the resurrection, for this fiery trial 
awaits you all. 

3 O LORD my God, if I have done this ; if there be iniquity in my hands ; 

4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me ; (yea, I have 
delivered him that without cause is mine enemy : ) 

5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it ; yea, let him tread down 
my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah. 

The second part of this wandering hymn contains a protestation of innocence, 
and an invocation of wrath upon his own head, if he were not clear from the evil 
imputed to him. So far from hiding treasonable intentions in his hands, or un 
gratefully requiting the peaceful deeds of a friend, he had even suffered his enemy 
to escape when he had him completely in his power. Twice had he spared Saul s 
life ; once in the cave of Adullam, and again when he found him sleeping in the 
midst of his slumbering camp ; he could, therefore, with a clear conscience, make 
his appeal to heaven. He needs not fear the curse whose soul is clear of guilt. 
Yet is the imprecation a most solemn one, and only justifiable through the extremity 
of the occasion, and the nature of the dispensation under which the Psalmist lived. 
We are commanded by our Lord Jesus to let our yea be yea, and our nay, nay ; 
" for whatsoever is more than this cometh of evil." If we cannot be believed 
on our word, we are surely not to be trusted on our oath ; for to a true Christian 
his simple word is as binding as another man s oath. Especially beware, O un 
converted men 1 of trifling with solemn imprecations. Remember the woman at 
Devizes, who wished she might die if she had not paid her share in a joint purchase, 
and who fell dead there and then with the money in her hand. 

Selah. David enhances the solemnity of this appeal to the dread tribunal of 
God by the use of the usual pause. 

From these verses we may learn that no innocence can shield a man from the 
calumnies of the wicked. David had been scrupulously careful to avoid any 
appearance of rebellion against Saul, whom he constantly styled "the Lord s 
anointed ; " but all this could not protect him from lying tongues. As the 
shadow follows the substance, so envy pursues goodness. It is only at the tree 
laden with fruit that men throw stones. If we would live without being slandered 
we must wait till we get to heaven. Let us be very heedful not to believe the flying 
rumours which are always harassing gracious men. If there are no believers in 
lies there will be but a dull market in falsehood, and good men s characters will be 


safe. Ill-will never spoke well. Sinners have an ill-will to saints, and therefore, 
be sure they will not speak well of them. 

6 Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine 
enemies : and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded. 

7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about : for their 
sakes therefore return thou on high. 

We now listen to a fresh prayer, based upon the avowal which he has just made. 
We cannot pray too often, and when our heart is true, we shall turn to God in prayer 
as naturally as the needle to its pole. 

" Arise, Lord, in thine anger." His sorrow makes him view the Lord as a 
judge who had left the judgment-seat and retired into his rest. Faith would move 
the Lord to avenge the quarrel of his saints. " Lift up thyself because of the rage 
of mine enemies " a still stronger figure to express his anxiety that the Lord would 
assume his authority and mount the throne. Stand up, O God, rise thou above 
them all, and let thy justice tower above their villainies. "Awake for me to the 
judgment that thou hast commanded." This is a bolder utterance still, for it implies 
sleep as well as inactivity, and can only be applied to God in a very limited sense. 
He never slumbers, yet doth he often seem to do so ; for the wicked prevail, and 
the saints are trodden in the dust. God s silence is the patience of longsuffering, 
and if wearisome to the saints, they should bear it cheerfully in the hope that sinners 
may thereby be led to repentance. 

" So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about." Thy saints shall 
crowd to thy tribunal with their complaints, or shall surround it with their solemn 
homage : " for their sakes therefore return thou on high." As when a judge travels 
at the assizes, all men take their cases to his court that they may be heard, so will 
the righteous gather to their Lord. Here he fortifies himself in prayer by pleading 
that if the Lord will mount the throne of judgment, multitudes of the saints would 
be blessed as well as himself. If I be too base to be remembered, yet "for their 
sakes," for the love thou bearest to thy chosen people, come forth from thy secret 
pavilion, and sit in the gate dispensing justice among the people. When my suit 
includes the desires of all the righteous it shall surely speed, for " shall not God 
avenge his own elect ? " 

8 The LORD shall judge the people : judge me, O LORD, according to my 
righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. 

9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end ; but establish the 
just : for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. 

If I am not mistaken, David has now seen in the eye of his mind the Lord ascending 
to his judgment-seat, and beholding him seated there in royal state, he draws near 
to him to urge his suit anew. In the last two verses he besought Jehovah to arise, 
and now that he is arisen, he prepares to mingle with " the congregation of the 
people " who compass the Lord about. The royal heralds proclaim the opening 
of the court with the solemn words, " The Lord shall judge the people." Our petitioner 
rises ai once, and cries with earnestness and humility, " Judge me, Lord, according 
to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me." His hand is on 
an honest heart, and his cry is to a righteous Judge. He sees a smile of complacency 
upon the face of the King, and in the name of all the assembled congregation he 
cries aloud, " Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end ; but establish the 
just." Is not this the universal longing of the whole company of the elect ? When 
shall we be delivered from the filthy conversation of these men of Sodom ? When 
shall we escape from the filthiness of Mesech and the blackness of the tents of Kedar ? 

What a solemn and weighty truth is contained in the last sentence of the ninth 
verse I How deep is the divine knowledge ! " he trieth." How strict, how 
accurate, how intimate his search ! " he trieth the hearts," the secret thoughts, 
" and reins," the inward affections. " All things are naked and opened to the 
eyes of him with whom we have to do." 

10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. 

11 God judgeththe righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. 


12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword ; he hath bent his bow, and made 
it ready. 

13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death ; he ordaineth 
his arrows against the persecutors. 

The judge has heard the cause, has cleared the guiltless, and uttered his voice 
against the persecutors. Let us draw near, and learn the results of the great 
assize. Yonder is the slandered one with his harp in hand, hymning the justice 
of his Lord, and rejoicing aloud in his own deliverance. " My defence is of God, 
which savelh the upright heart." Oh, how good to have a true and upright heart. 
Crooked sinners, with all their craftiness, are foiled by the upright in heart. God 
defends the right. Filth will not long abide on the pure white garments of the 
saints, but shall be brushed off by divine providence, to the vexation of the men 
by whose base hands it was thrown upon the godly. When God shall try our cause, 
our sun has risen, and the sun of the wicked is set for ever. Truth, like oil, is ever 
above, no power of our enemies can drown it ; we shall refute their slanders in 
the day when the trumpet wakes the dead, and we shall shine in honour when lying 
lips are put to silence. O believer, fear not all that thy foes can do or say against 
thee, for the tree which God plants no winds can hurt. " God fudgeth the righteous," 
he hath not given thee up to be condemned by the lips of persecutors. Thine 
enemies cannot sit on God s throne, nor blot thy name out of his book. Let them 
alone, then, for God will find time for his revenges. 

" God is angry with the wicked every day." He not only detests sin, but is angry 
with those who continue to indulge in it. We have no insensible and stolid God 
to deal with ; he can be angry, nay, he is angry to-day and every day with you, 
ye ungodly and impenitent sinners. The best day that ever dawns on a sinner 
brings a curse with it. Sinners may have many feast days, but no safe days. From 
the beginning of the year even to its ending, there is not an hour in which God s 
oven is not hot, and burning in readiness for the wicked, who shall be as stubble. 

" // he turn not, he will whet his sword." What blows are those which will be 
dealt by that long uplifted arm 1 God s sword has been sharpening upon the 
revolving stone of our daily wickedness, and if we will not repent, it will speedily 
cut us in pieces. Turn or burn is the sinner s only alternative. " He hath bent 
his bow and made it ready." Even now the thirsty arrow longs to wet itself with 
the blood of the persecutor. The bow is bent, the aim is taken, the arrow is fitted 
to the string, and what, O sinner, if the arrow should be let fly at thee even now ! 
Remember, God s arrows never miss the mark, and are, every one of them, " in 
struments of death." Judgment may tarry, but it will not come too late. The 
Greek proverb saith, " The mill of God grinds late, but grinds to powder." 

14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and 
brought forth falsehood. 

15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 

1 6 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing 
shall come down upon his own pate. 

In three graphic pictures we see the slanderer s history. A woman in travail 
furnishes the first metaphor. "He travaileth with iniquity." He is full of it, 
pained until he can carry it out, he longs to work his will, he is full of pangs until 
his evil intent is executed. " He hath conceived mischief." This is the original 
of his base design. The devil has had doings with him, and the virus of evil is in 
him. And now behold the progeny of this unhallowed conception. The child 
is worthy of its father, his name of old was " the father of lies," and the birth doth 
not belie the parent, for he brought forth falsehood. Thus, one figure is carried out 
to perfection ; the Psalmist now illustrates his meaning by another taken from 
the stratagems of the hunter. "He made a pit and digged it." He was cunning 
in his plans, and industrious in his labours. He stooped to the dirty work of digging. 
He did not fear to soil his own hands, he was willing to work in a ditch if others might 
fall therein. What mean things men will do to wreak revenge on the godly. They 
hunt for good men, as if they were brute beasts ; nay, they will not give them the 
fair chase affoided to the hare or the fox, but must secretly entrap them, because 
they can neither run them down nor shoot them down. Our enemies will not 
meet us to the face, for they fear us as much as they pretend to despise us. But 


let us look on to the end of the scene. The verse says, he " is fallen into the ditch 
which he made." Ah I there he is, let us laugh at his disappointment. Lo I he 
Is himself the beast, he has hunted his own soul, and the chase has brought him 
a goodly victim. Aha, aha, so should it ever be. Come hither and make merry 
with this entrapped hunter, this biter who has bitten himself. Give him no pity, 
for it will be wasted on such a wretch. He is but rightly and richly rewarded by 
being paid in his own coin. He cast forth evil from his mouth, and it has fallen 
into his bosom. He has set his own house on fire with the torch which he lit to 
burn a neighbour. He sent forth a foul bird, and it has come back to its nest. 
The rod which he lifted on high, has smitten his own back. He shot an arrow 
upward, and it has "returned upon his own head." He hurled a stone at another, 
and it has " come down upon his own pate." Curses are like young chickens, they 
always come home to roost. Ashes always fly back in the face of him that throws 
them. "As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him " (Ps. cix. 17.) How often 
has this been the case in the histories of both ancient and modern times. Men 
have burned their own fingers when they were hoping to brand their neighbour. 
And if this does not happen now, it will hereafter. The Lord has caused dogs to 
lick the blood of Ahab in the midst of the vineyard of Naboth. Sooner or later 
the evil deeds of persecutors have always leaped back into their arms. So will 
it be in the last great day, when Satan s fiery darts shall all be quivered in his own 
heart, and all his followers shall reap the harvest which they themselves 
have sown. 

17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness : and will sing 
praise to the name of the LORD most high. 

We conclude with the joyful contrast. In this all these Psalms are agreed ; 
they all exhibit the blessedness of the righteous, and make its colours the more 
glowing by contrast with the miseries of the wicked. The bright jewel sparkles 
in a black foil. Praise is the occupation of the godly, their eternal work, and their 
present pleasure. Singing is the fitting embodiment for praise, and therefore 
do the saints make melody before the Lord Most High. The slandered one is 
now a singer : his harp was unstrung for a very little season, and now we leave him 
sweeping its harmonious chords, and flying on their music to the third heaven of 
adoring praise. 


Title. " Shiggaion," though some have attempted to fix on it a reference to 
the moral aspect of the world as depicted in this Psalm, is in all probability to 
be taken as expressing the nature of the composition. It conveys the idea of some 
thing erratic (?w, to wander) in the style ; something not so calm as other Psalms ; 
and hence Ewald suggests that it might be rendered, " a confused ode," a Dithyramb. 
This characteristic of excitement in the style, and a kind of disorder in the sense, 
suits Habakkuk iii. 1, the only other place where the word occurs. Andrew A. 

Whole Psalm. Whatever might be the occasion of the Psalm, the real subject 
seems to be the Messiah s appeal to God against the false accusations of his enemies ; 
and the predictions which it contains of the final conversion of the whole world, 
and of the future judgment, are clear and explicit. Samuel Horsley, LL.D., 

Verse 1. " Lord, my God, in thee do I put my trust." This is the first instance 
in the Psalms where David addresses the Almighty by the united names Jehovah 
and my God. No more suitable words can be placed at the beginning of any act 
of prayer or praise. These names show the ground of the confidence afterwards 
expressed. They " denote at once supreme reverence and the most endearing 
confidence. They convey a recognition of God s infinite perfections, and of his 
covenanted and gracious relations." William S. Plumer. 


Verse 2. " Lest he tear my soul like a lion," etc. It is reported of tigers, that 
they enter into a rage upon the scent of fragrant spices ; so do ungodly men at 
the blessed savour of godliness. I have read of some barbarous nations, who, 
when the sun shines hot upon them, they shoot up their arrows against it ; so do 
wicked men at the light and heat of godliness. There is a natural antipathy between 
the spirits of godly men and the wicked. Genesis iii. 15. "I will put enmity 
between thy seed and her seed." Jeremiah Burroughs, 1660. 

Verse 3. " Lord, my God, if I have done this, if there be iniquity in my hands." 
In the primitive times the people of God were then a people under great reproach. 
What strange things does Tertullian tell us they reproached them withal ; as that 
in their meetings they made Thyestes suppers, who invited his brother to a supper, 
and presented him with a dish of his own flesh. They charged them with uncleanness 
because they met in the night (for they durst not meet in the day), and said, they 
blew out the candles when they were together, and committed filthiness. They 
reproached them for ignorance, saying, they were all unlearned ; and therefore 
the heathens in Tertullian s time used to paint the God of the Christians with an 
ass s head, and a book in his hand, to signify that though they pretended learning, 
yet they were an unlearned, silly people, rude and ignorant. Bishop Jewel in his 
sermon upon Luke xi. 5, cites this out of Tertullian, and applies it to his time : 
" Do not our adversaries do the like," saith he, " at this day, against all those that 
profess the gospel of Christ ? Oh, say they, who are they that favour this way ? they 
are none but shoemakers, tailors, weavers, and such as were never at the university ; " 
they are the bishop s own words. He cites likewise Tertullian a little after, saying, 
that the Christians were accounted the public enemies of the State. And Josephus 
tells us of Apollinaris, speaking concerning the Jews and Christians, that they are 
more foolish than any barbarian. And Paulus Fagius reports a story of an Egyptian, 
concerning the Christians, who said, " They were a gathering together of a most 
fifthy, lecherous people ; " and for the keeping of the Sabbath, he says, " they 
had a disease that was upon them, and they were fain to rest the seventh day because 
of that disease." And so in Augustine s time, he hath this expression, "Any one 
that begins to be godly, presently he must prepare to suffer reproach from the 
tongues of adversaries ; " and this was their usual manner of reproach, " What 
shall we have of you, an Elias ? a Jeremy ? " And Nazianzen in one of his orations 
says, " It is ordinary to reproach, that I cannot think to go free myself." And 
so Athanasius, they called him Sathanasius, because he was a special instrument 
against the Arians. And Cyprian, they called him Coprian, one that gathers 
up dung, as if all the excellent things that he had gathered in his works were but 
dung. Jeremiah Burroughs. 

Verse 3. " // / have done this ; if there be iniquity in my hands." I deny not 
but you may, and ought to be sensible of the wrong done to your name, for as " a 
good name is a precious ointment " (Cant. i. 3), so to have an evil name is a great 
judgment ; and therefore you ought not to be insensible of the wrong done to 
your name by slanders and reproaches, saying, " Let men speak of me what they 
please, I care not, so long as I know mine own innocency," for though the testimony 
of your own innocency be a ground of comfort unto you, yet your care must be 
not only to approve yourselves unto God, but also unto men, to be as careful of 
your good names as possibly ye can ; but yet you are not to manifest any distemper 
or passion upon the reproachful speeches of others against you. Thomas Gouge, 

Verse 3. It is a sign that there is some good in thee if a wicked world abuse 
thee. " Quid mali fed ? " said Socrates, what evil have I done that this bad man 
commends me ? The applause of the wicked usually denotes some evil, and their 
censure imports some good. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 3. " // there be iniquity in my hands." Injustice is ascribed to the hand, 
not because injustice is always, though usually it be, done by the hand. With the 
hand men take away, and with that men detain the right of others. David speaks 
thus (1 Chron. xii. 17), " Seeing there is no wrong in mine hands ; " that is, I have 
done no wrong. Joseph Caryl. 

Verses 3, 4. A good conscience is a flowing spring of assurance. " For our 
rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly 
sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our con 
versation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." 2 Cor. i. 12. " Beloved, 


if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God." 1 John iii. 21. 
A good conscience has sure confidence. He who has it sits in the midst of all 
combustions and distractions, Noah-like, all sincerity and serenity, uprightness and 
boldness. What the probationer disciple said to our Saviour, " Master, I will 
follow thee whithersover thou goest," that a good conscience says to the believing 
soul ; I will stand by thee ; I will strengthen thee ; I will uphold thee ; I will be 
a comfort to thee in life, and a friend to thee in death. " Though all should leave 
thee, yet will I never forsake thee." Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 4. " Yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy." Meaning 
Saul, whose life he twice preserved, once in Engedi, and again when he slept on 
the plain. John Gill. 

Verse 4. " // / have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me." To 
do evil for good, is human corruption ; to do good for good, is civil retribution ; 
but to do good for evil, is Christian perfection. Though this be not the grace of 
nature, yet it is the nature of grace. William Seeker. 

Verse 4. Then is grace victorious, and then hath a man a noble and brave 
spirit, not when he is overcome by evil (for that argueth weakness), but when he 
can overcome evil. And it is God s way to shame the party that did the wrong, 
and to overcome him too ; it is the best way to get the victory over him. When 
David had Saul at an advantage in the cave, and cut off the lap of his garment, 
and did forbear any act of revenge against him, Saul was melted, and said to David, 
" Thou art more righteous than I." 1 Sam. xxiv. 17. Though he had such a hostile 
mind against him, and chased and pursued him up and down, yet when David for 
bore revenge when it was in his power it overcame him, and he falls a-weeping. 
Thomas Man/on, 

Verse 5. " Let him tread down my life upon the earth." The allusion here is 
to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they 
were rode over by horses, or trampled by men in the dust. The idea of David is, 
that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, 
should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn. Albert 
Barnes, in loc. 

Verse 5. " Mine honour in the dust." When Achilles dragged the body of 
Hector in the dust around the walls of Troy, he did but carry out the usual manners 
of those barbarous ages. David dares in his conscious innocence to imprecate such 
an ignominious fate upon himself if indeed the accusation of the black Benjamite 
be true. He had need have a golden character who dares to challenge such an 
ordeal. C. H. S. 

Verse 6. " The judgment which thou hast ordained." In the end of the verse 
he shows that he asks nothing but what is according to the appointment of God. 
And this is the rule which ought to be observed by us in our prayers ; we should 
in everything conform our requests to the divine will, as John also instructs us. 
1 John iv. 14. And, indeed, we can never pray in faith unless we attend, in the first 
place, to what God commands, that our minds may not rashly and at random start 
aside in desiring more than we are permitted to desire and pray for. David, there 
fore, in order to pray aright, reposes himself on the word and promise of God ; and 
the import of his exercise is this : Lord, I am not led by ambition, or foolish head 
strong passion, or depraved desire, inconsiderately to ask from thee whatever is 
pleasing to my flesh ; but it is the clear light of thy word which directs me, and 
upon it I securely depend. John Calvin. 

Verse 1. " The congregation of the people:" either, 1. A great number of all 
sorts of people, who shall observe thy justice, and holiness, and goodness in pleading 
my righteous cause against my cruel and implacable oppressor. Or rather, 2. The 
whole body of thy people Israel, by whom both these Hebrew words are commonly 
ascribed in Holy Scripture. " Compass thee about ; " they will, and I, as their king 
and ruler in thy stead, will take care that they shall come from all parts and meet 
together to worship thee, which in Saul s time they have grossly neglected, and 
been permitted to neglect, and to offer to thee praises and sacrifices for thy favour 
to me, and for the manifold benefits which they shall enjoy by my means, and under 
my government. " For their sakes ; " or, for its sake, i.e., for the sake of thy con- 


gregation, which now is woefully dissipated and oppressed, and has in a great measure 
lost all administration of justice, and exercise of religion. " Return thou on high," 
or, return to thy high place, i.e. to thy tribunal, to sit there and judge my cause. An 
allusion to earthly tribunals, which generally are set up on high above the people. 
1 Kings x. 19. Matthew Pool, 16241679. 

Verse 8. Believers ! let not the terror of that day dispirit you when you meditate 
upon it ; let those who have slighted the Judge, and continue enemies to him and 
the way of holiness, droop and hang down their heads when they think of his coming ; 
but lift ye up your heads with joy, for the last day will be your best day. The 
Judge is your Head and Husband, your Redeemer and your Advocate. Ye must 
appear before the judgment-seat ; but ye shall not come into condemnation. His 
coming will not be against you, but for you. It is otherwise with unbelievers, a 
neglected Saviour will be a severe Judge. Thomas Boston, 1676 1732. 

Verse 9. " The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins." As common experience 
shows that the workings of the mind, particularly the passions of joy, grief, and 
fear, have a very remarkable effect on the reins or kidneys (see Prov. xxiii. 16 ; 
Psalm Ixxiii. 21), so from their retired situation in the body, and their being hid in 
fat, they are often used to denote the most secret workings and affections of the 
soul. And to " see or examine the reins," is to see or examine those most secret 
thoughts or desires of the soul. John Parkhurst, 1762. 

Verse 9 (last clause). " The righteous God trieth the hearts and reins." 

" I that alone am infinite, can try 
How deep within itself thine heart doth lie. 
Thy seamen s plummet can but reach the ground, 
I find that which thine heart itself ne er found." 

Francis Quarles, 1592 1644. 

Verse 9. " The heart" may signify the cogitations, and the " reins " the affec 
tions. Henry Ainsworth. 

Verse 10. "My defence is of God." Literally, "My shield is upon God," like 
Psalm Ixii. 8, " My salvation is upon God." The idea may be taken from the armour- 
bearer, ever ready at hand to give the needed weapon to the warrior. Andrew A. 

Verse 11. " God fudgeth the righteous," etc. Many learned disputes have arisen 
as to the meaning of this verse ; and it must be confessed that its real import is 
by no means easily determined : without the words written in italics, which are not 
in the orginal,it will read thus, "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry every 
day." The question still will be, is this a good rendering? To this question it may 
be replied, that there is strong evidence for a contrary one. AINSWORTH translates it, 
" God is a just judge ; and God angrily threateneth every day." With this corre 
sponds the reading of COVERDALE S Bible, " God is a righteous judge, and God is ever 
threatening." In King Edward s Bible, of 1549, the reading is the same. But there 
is another class of critics who adopt quite a different view of the text, and apparently 
with much colour of argument. BISHOP HORSLEY reads the verse, " God is a 
righteous judge, although he is not angry every day." In this rendering he seems 
to have followed most of the ancient versions. The VULGATE reads it, " God is a 
judge, righteous, strong, and patient ; will he be angry every day ? " The SEP- 
TUAGINT reads it, " God is a righteous judge, strong, and longsuffering ; not bringing 
forth his anger every day." The SYRIAC has it, " God is the judge of righteousness ; 
he is not angry every day." In this view of the text Dr. A. Clarke agrees, and 
expresses it as his opinion that the text was first corrupted by the CHALDEE. This 
learned divine proposes to restore the text thus, "Vx, el, with the vowel point 
tseri, signifies God ; Vx, a/, the same letters, with the point pathach, signifies not." 
There is by this view of the original no repetition of the divine name in the verse, 
so that it will simply read, as thus restored, " God is a righteous judge, and is NOT 
angry every day." The text at large, as is intimated in the VULGATE, SEPTUAGINT, 
and some other ancient versions, conveys a strong intimation of the longsuffering of 
God, whose hatred of sin is unchangeable, but whose anger against transgressors is 
marked by infinite patience, and does not burst forth in vengeance every day. John 
Morison, in "An Exposition of the Book of Psalms," 1829. 


Verse 11. " God is angry." The original expression here is very forcible. The 
true idea of it appears to be, to froth or foam at the mouth with indignation. Richard 
Mant, D.D., 1824. 

Verses 11, 12. God hath set up his royal standard in defiance of all the sons 
and daughters of apostate Adam, who from his own mouth are proclaimed rebels 
and traitors to his crown and dignity ; and as against such he hath taken the field, 
as with fire and sword, to be avenged on them. Yea, he gives the world sufficient 
testimony of his incensed wrath, by that of it which is revealed from heaven daily in 
the judgments executed upon sinners, and those many but of a span long, before 
they can show what nature they have by actual sin, yet crushed to death by God s 
righteous foot, only for the viperous kind of which they come. At every door where 
sin sets its foot, there the wrath of God meets us. Every faculty of soul, and member 
of body, are used as a weapon of unrighteousness against God ; so every one hath 
its portion of wrath, even to the tip of the tongue. As man is sinful all over, so is he 
cursed all over. Inside and outside, soul and body, is written all with woes and 
curses, so close and full, that there is not room for another to interline, or add to 
what God hath written. William Gurnall. 

Verses 11 13. The idea of God s righteousness must have possessed great 
vigour to render such a representation possible. There are some excellent remarks 
upon the ground of it in Luther, who, however, too much overlooks the fact, that 
the Psalmist presents before his eyes this form of an angry and avenging God, 
primarily with the view of strengthening by its consideration his own hope, and 
pays too little regard to the distinction between the Psalmist, who only indirectly 
teaches what he described as part of his own inward experience, and the prophet : 
" The prophet takes a lesson from a coarse human similitude, in order that he might 
inspire terror unto the ungodly. For he speaks against stupid and hardened people, 
who would not apprehend the reality of a divine judgment of which he had just 
spoken ; but they might possibly be brought to consider this by greater earnestness 
on the part of man. Now, the prophet is not satisfied with thinking of the sword, 
but he adds thereto the bow ; even this does not satisfy him, but he describes how 
it is already stretched, and aim is taken, and the arrows are applied to it as here 
follows. So hard, stiff-necked, and unabashed are the ungodly, that however many 
threatenings may be urged against them, they will still remain unmoved. But in 
these words he forcibly describes how God s anger presses hard upon the ungodly, 
though they will never understand this until they actually experience it. It is also 
to be remarked here, that we have had so frightful a threatening and indignation 
against the ungodly in no Psalm before this ; neither has the Spirit of God attacked 
them with so many words. Then in the following verses, he also recounts their plans 
and purposes, shows how these shall not be in vain, but shall return again upon 
their own head. So that it clearly and manifestly appears to all those who suffer 
wrong and reproach, as a matter of consolation, that God hates such revilers and 
slanderers above all other characters." E. W. Hengstenberg, in loc., 1845. 

Verse 12. " // he turn not," etc. How few do believe what a quarrel God hath 
with wicked men ? And that not only with the loose, but the formal and hypo 
critical also ? If we did we would tremble as much as to be among them as to be in a 
house that is falling ; we would endeavour to " save " ourselves " from this un 
toward generation." The apostle would not so have abjured them, so charged, so 
entreated them, had he not known the danger of wicked company. " God is angry 
with the wicked every day ; " his bow is bent, the arrows are on the string ; the instru 
ments for their ruin are all prepared. And is it safe to be there where the arrows of 
God are ready to fly about our ears ? How was the apostle afraid to be in the bath 
with Cerinthus 1 " Depart," saith God by Moses, " from the tents of Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram, lest ye be consumed in all their sins." How have the baskets of good 
figs suffered with the bad ! Is it not prejudicial to the gold to be with the dross ? 
Lot had been ruined by his neighbourhood to the Sodomites if God had not wrought 
wonderfully for his deliverance. Will you put God to work miracles to save you 
from your ungodly company ? It is dangerous being in the road with thieves whilst 
God s hue and cry of vengeance is at their backs. "A companion of fools shall be 
destroyed." The very beasts may instruct you to consult better for your security : 
the very deer are afraid of a wounded chased deer, and therefore for their preserva 
tion thrust him out of their company. Lewis Stuckley. 

Verse 12. " // he turn not, he will whet his sword," etc. The whetting of the 


sword is but to give a keener edge that it may cut the deeper. God is silent as long 
as the sinner will let him ; but when the sword is whet, it is to cut ; and when the 
bow is bent, it is to kill ; and woe be to that man who is the butt. William Seeker. 

Verse 13. "He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death ; he ordaineth 
his arrows against the persecutors." It is said that God hath ordained his arrows 
against the persecutors ; the word signifies such as burn in anger and malice against 
the godly ; and the word translated ordained, signifies God hath wrought his arrows ; 
he doth not shoot them at random, but he works them against the wicked. Illiricus 
hath a story which may well be a commentary upon this text in both the parts of it. 
One Felix, Earl of Wartenberg, one of the captains of the Emperor Charles V., swore 
in the presence of divers at supper, that before he died he would ride up to the spurs 
in the blood of the Lutherans. Here was one that burned in malice, but behold 
how God works his arrows against him : that very night the hand of God so struck 
him, that he was strangled and choked in his own blood ; so he rode not, but bathed 
himself, not up to the spurs, but up to the throat, not in the blood of the Lutherans, 
but in his own blood before he died. Jeremiah Burroughs. 

Verse 13. "He ordaineth his arrows." This might more exactly be rendered, 
" He maketh his arrows burning." This image would seem to be deduced from the 
use of fiery arrows. John Kitto, 1804 1854. 

Verse 14. "Behold, he travaileth with iniquity," etc. The words express the 
conception, birth, carriage, and miscarriage, of a plot against David. In which you 
may consider : (1.) What his enemies did. (2.) What God did. (3.) What we all 
should do : his enemies intention, God s prevention, and our duty ; his enemies in 
tention, he travaileth with iniquity, and conceiveth mischief ; God s prevention, he 

brought forth a lie ; our duty, Behold Observe the aggravation of the sin, he 

conceiveth. He was not put upon it, or forced into it ; it was voluntary. The 
more liberty we have not to sin, makes our sin the greater. He did not this in 
passion, but in cold blood. The less will, less sin. Richard Sibbs. 

Verse 14. "He travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief." All note 
that conceiving is before travailing, but here travailing, as a woman in labour, goeth 
first ; the reason whereof is, that the wicked are so hotly set upon the evil which they 
maliciously intend, that they would be immediately acting of it if they could tell 
how, even before they have conceived by what means ; but in fine they bring forth 
but a lie, that is, they find that their own hearts lied to them, when they promised 
good success, but they had evil. For their haste to perpetrate mischief is intimated 
in the word rendered " persecutors " (verse 13), which properly signifieth ardentes, 
burning ; that is, with a desire to do mischief and this admits of no delay. A 
notable common-place, both setting forth the evil case of the wicked, especially 
attempting anything against the righteous, to move them to repentance for thou 
hast God for thine enemy warring against thee, whose force thou canst not resist 
and the greedy desire of the wicked to be evil, but their conception shall all prove 
abortive. J. Mayer, in loc. 

Verse 14. " And hath brought forth falsehood." Every sin is a lie. Augustine. 

Verse 14. 

" Earth s entertainments are like those of Jael, 
Her left hand brings me milk, her right, a nail." 

Thomas Fuller. 

Verses 14, 15. " They have digged a pit for us " and that low, unto hell " and 
are fallen into it themselves." 

" No juster law can be devised or made. 
Than that sin s agents fall by their own trade." 

The order of hell proceeds with the same degrees ; though it give a greater portion, 
yet still a just proportion, of torment. These wretched guests were too busy with 
the waters of sin ; behold, now they are in the depth of a pit, " where no water is." 
Dives, that wasted so many tuns of wine, cannot now procure water, not a pot of 
water, not a handful of water, not a drop of water, to cool his tongue. Desideravit 
guttam, qui non dedit micam.* A just recompense I He would not give a crumb ; 
he shall not have a drop. Bread hath no smaller fragment than a crumb, water 

* Aug. Horn. 7. 


no less fraction than a drop. As he denied the least comfort to Lazarus living, so 
Lazarus shall not bring him the least comfort dead. Thus the pain for sin answers 

the pleasure of sin Thus damnable sins shall have semblable punishments ; 

and as Augustine of the tongue, so we may say of any member If it will 

not serve God in action, it shall serve him in passion. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 15. " He made a pit and digged it." The practice of making pitfalls was 
anciently not only employed for ensnaring wild beasts, but was also a stratagem 
used against men by the enemy, in time of war. The idea, therefore, refers to a man 
who, having made such a pit, whether for man or beast, and covered it over so as 
completely to disguise the danger, did himself inadvertently tread on his own trap, 
and fall into the pit he had prepared for another. Pictorial Bible. 

Verse 16. That most witty of commentators, Old Master Trapp, tells the 
following notable anecdote, in illustration of this verse : That was a very remark 
able instance of Dr. Story, who, escaping out of prison in Queen Elizabeth s days, 
got to Antwerp, and there thinking himself out of the reach of God s rod, he got 
commission under the Duke of Alva to search all ships coming thither for English 
books. But one Parker, an English merchant, trading to Antwerp, laid his snare 
fair (saith our chronicler), to catch this foul bird, causing secret notice to be given 
to Story, that in his ship were stores of heretical books, with other intelligence that 
might stand him in stead. The Canonist conceiving that all was quite sure, hasted 
to the ship, where, with looks very big upon the poor mariners, each cabin, chest, 
and corner above-board were searched, and some things found to draw him futher 
on : so that the hatches must be opened, which seemed to be unwillingly done, and 
great signs of fear were showed by their faces. This drew on the Doctor to descend 
into the hold, where now in the trap the mouse might well gnaw, but could not get 
out, for the hatches were down, and the sails hoisted up, which, with a merry gale 
were blown into England, where ere long he was arraigned, and condemned of high 
treason, and accordingly executed at Tyburn, as he had well deserven. 

Verse 16. The story of Phalaris s bull, invented for the torment of others, 

and serving afterwards for himself, is notorious in heathen story It was a 

voluntary judgment which Archbishop Cranmer inflicted on himself when he thrust 
that very hand into the fire, and burnt it, with which he had signed to the popish 
articles, crying out, " Oh, my unworthy right hand! " but who will deny that the 
hand of the Almighty was also concerned in it ? William Turner in " Divine Judg 
ments by way of Retaliation," 1697. 

Verse 17. To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them; to bless him 
for miseries is the way to remove them : no good lives so long as that which is thank 
fully improved ; no evil dies so soon as that which is patiently endured. Williarr 


Verse 1. The necessity of faith when we address ourselves to God. Show 
the worthlessness of prayer without trust in the Lord. 

Verses 1, 2. Viewed as a prayer for deliverance from all enemies, especially 
Satan the lion. 

Verse 3. Self- vindication before men. When possible, judicious, or serviceable. 
With remarks upon the spirit in which it should be attempted. 

Verse 4. " The best revenge." Evil for good is devil-like, evil for evil is beast- 
like, good for good is man-like, good for evil is God-like. 

Verse 6. How and in what sense divine anger may become the hope of the 

Fire fought by fire, or man s anger overcome by God s anger. 

Verse 1. " The congregation of the people." 1. Who they are. 2. Why they 
congregate together with one another. 3. Where they congregate. 4. Why they 
choose such a person to be the centre of their congregation. 

Verse 7. The gathering of the saints around the Lord Jesus. 


Verse 7 (last clause). The coming of Christ to judgment for the good of his saints. 

Verse 8. The character of the Judge before whom we all must stand. 

Verse 9 (first clause). (1) By changing their hearts ; or (2) by restraining their 
wills, (3) or depriving them of power, (4) or removing them. Show the times when, 
the reasons why, such a prayer should be offered, and how, in the first sense, we 
may labour for its accomplishment. 

Verse 9. This verse contains two grand prayers, and a noble proof that the 
Lord can grant them. 

Verse 9. The period of sin, and the perpetuity of the righteous : Matthew 

Verse 9. "Establish the just." By what means and in what sense the just are 
established, or, the true established church. 

Verse 9 (last clause). God s trial of men s hearts. 

Verse 10. " Upright in heart." Explain the character. 

Verse 10. The believer s trust in God, and God s care over him. Show the 
action of faith in procuring defence and protection, and of that defence upon our 
faith by strengthening it, etc. 

Verse 11. The Judge, and the two persons upon their trial. 

Verse 11 (second clause). God s present, daily, constant, and vehement anger, 
against the wicked. 

Verse 12. See " Spurgeon s Sermons," No. 106. " Turn or Burn." 

Verses 14, 15, 16. Illustrate by three figures the devices and defeat of persecutors. 

Verse 17. The excellent duty of praise. 

Verse 17. View the verse in connection with the subject of the Psalm, and 
show how the deliverance of the righteous, and the destruction of the wicked are 
themes for song. 


TITLE. " To the Chief Musician upon Gittith, a Psalm of David." We are not 
clear upon the meaning of the word Gittith. Some think it refers to Gath, and may 
refer to a tune commonly sung there, or an instrument of music there invented, or a 
song of Obededom the Gittite, in whose house the ark rested, or, better still, a song sung 
over Goliath of Gath. Others, tracing the Hebrew to its root, conceive it to mean a song 
for the winepress, a /oyful hymn for the treaders of grapes. The term Gittith is applied 
to two other Psalms (Ixxxi. and Ixxxiv.), both of which, being of a joyous character, 
it may be concluded, that where we find that word in the title, we may look for a hymn 
of delight. 

We may style this Psalm the song of the Astronomer : let us go abroad and sing 
it beneath the starry heavens at eventide, for it is very probable that in such a position, 
it first occurred to the poet s mind. Dr. Chalmers says, " There is much in the scenery 
of a nocturnal sky, to lift the soul to pious contemplation. That moon, and these stars, 
what are they ? They are detached from the world, and they lift us above it. We feel 
withdrawn from the earth, and rise in lofty abstraction from this little theatre of human 
passions and human anxieties. The mind abandons itself to reverie, and is trans 
ferred in the ecstasy of its thought to distant and unexplored regions. It sees nature 
in the simplicity of her great elements, and it sees the God of nature invested with the 
high attributes of wisdom and majesty." 

DIVISION. The first and last verses are a sweet song of admiration, in which the 
excellence of the name of God is extolled. The intermediate verses are made up of holy 
wonder at the Lord s greatness in creation, and at his condescension towards man. 
Poole, in his annotation, has well said, " It is a great question among interpreters, 
whether this Psalm speaks of man in general, and of the honour which God puts upon 
him in his creation ; or only of the man Christ Jesus. Possibly both may be reconciled 
and put together, and the controversy, if rightly stated, may be ended, for the scope and 
business of this Psalm seems plainly to be this : to display and celebrate the great love 
and kindness of God to mankind, not only in his creation, but especially in his redemp 
tion by Jesus Christ, whom, as he was man, he advanced to the honour and dominion 
here mentioned, that he might carry on his great and glorious work. So Christ is the 
principal subject of this Psalm, and it is interpreted of him, both by our Lord himself 
(Matt. xxi. 16), and by his holy apostle (1 Cor. xv. 27 ; Heb. ii. 6, 7). 


/~\ LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth ! who hast 
^*^ set thy glory above the heavens. 

Unable to express the glory of God, the Psalmist utters a note of exclamation. 
O Jehovah our Lord 1 We need not wonder at this, for no heart can measure, no 
tongue can utter, the half of the greatness of Jehovah. The whole creation is full 
of his glory and radiant with the excellency of his power ; his goodness and his 
wisdom are manifested on every hand. The countless myriads of terrestrial beings, 
from man the head, to the creeping worm at the foot, are all supported and nourished 
by the Divine bounty. The solid fabric of the universe leans upon his eternal arm. 
Universally is he present, and everywhere is his name excellent. God worketh ever 
and everywhere. There is no place where God is not. The miracles of his power 
await us on all sides. Traverse the silent valleys where the rocks enclose you on 
either side, rising like the battlements of heaven till you can see but a strip of the 
blue sky far overhead ; you may be the only traveller who has passed through that 
glen ; the bird may start up affrighted, and the moss may tremble beneath the first 
tread of human foot ; but God is there in a thousand wonders, upholding yon rocky 
barriers, filling the flowercups with their perfume, and refreshing the lonely pines 
with the breath of his mouth. Descend, if you will, into the lowest depths of the 
ocean, where undisturbed the water sleeps, and the very sand is motionless in un 
broken quiet, but the glory of the Lord is there, revealing its excellence in the silent 
palace of the sea. Borrow the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost parts 
of the sea, but God is there. Mount to the highest heaven, or dive into the deepest 


hell, and God is in both hymned in everlasting song, or justified in terrible 
vengeance. Everywhere, and in every place, God dwells and is manifestly at work. 
Nor on earth alone is Jehovah extolled, for his brightness shines forth in the firmament 
above the earth. His glory exceeds the glory of t he starry heavens ; above the region 
of the stars he hath set fast his everlasting throne, and there he dwells in light 
ineffable. Let us adore him "who alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth 
upon the waves of the sen ; who maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the 
chambers of the south." (Job ix. 8, 9.) We can scarcely find more fitting words 
than those of Nehemiah, " Thou even thou, art Lord alone ; thou hast made heaven, 
the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts, the earth, and all things that are therein, 
the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all ; and the host of 
heaven worshippeth thee." Returning to the text we are led to observe that this 
Psalm is addressed to God, because none but the Lord himself can fully know his 
own glory. The believing heart is ravished with what it sees, but God only knows 
the glory of God. What a sweetness lies in the little word our, how much is God s 
glory endeared to us when we consider our interest in him as our Lord. How ex 
cellent is thy name ! no words can express that excellency ; and therefore it is left 
as a note of exclamation. The very name of Jehovah is excellent, what must his 
person be. Note the fact that even the heavens cannot contain his glory, it is set 
above the heavens, since it is and ever must be too great for the creature to express. 
When wandering amid the Alps, we felt that the Lord was infinitely greater than 
all his grandest works, and under that feeling we roughly wrote these few lines : 

Yet in all these how great soe er they be, 
We see not Him. The glass is all too dense 
And dark, or else our earthborn eyes too dim. 

Yon Alps, that lift their heads above the clouds 

And hold familiar converse with the stars, 

Are dust, at which the balance trembleth not, 

Compared with His divine immensity. 

The snow-crown d summits fail to set Him forth, 

Who dwelleth in Eternity, and bears 

Alone, the name of High and Lofty One. 

Depths unfathomed are too shallow to express 

The wisdom and the knowledge of the Lord. 

The mirror of the creatures has no space 

To bear the image of the Infinite. 

Tis true the Lord hath fairly writ His name, 

And set His seal upon creation s brow. 

But as the skilful potter much excels 

The vessel which he fashions on the wheel, 

E en so, but in proportion greater far, 

Jehovah s self transcends His noblest works. 

Earth s ponderous wheels would break, her axles snap, 

If freighted with the load of Deity. 

Space is too narrow for the Eternal s rest, 

And time too short a footstool for His throne. 

E en avalanche and thunder lack a voice, 

To utter the full volume of His praise. 

How then can I declare Him ! Where are words 

With which my glowing tongue may speak His name 1 

Silent I bow, and humbly I adore. 

2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength 
because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 

Nor only in the heavens above is the Lord seen, but the earth beneath is telling 
forth his majesty. In the sky, the massive orbs, rolling in their stupendous grandeur, 
are witnesses of his power in great things, while here below, the lisping utterances of 
babes are the manifestations of his strength in little ones. How often will children 
tell us of a God whom we have forgotten ! How doth their simple prattle refute 
those learned fools who deny the being of God 1 Many men have been made to 
hold their tongues, while sucklings have borne witness to the glory of the God of 
heaven. It is singular how clearly the history of the church expounds this verse. 
Did not the children cry " Hosannah ! " in the temple, when proud Pharisees were 
silent and contemptuous ? and did not the Saviour quote these very words as 
a justification of their infantile cries ? Early church history records many amazing 


Instances of the testimony of children for the truth of God, but perhaps more modern 
Instances will be most interesting. Foxe tells us, in the Book of Martyrs, that when 
Mr. Lawrence was burnt in Colchester, he was carried to the fire in a chair, because, 
through the cruelty of the Papists, he could not stand upright, several young children 
came about the fire and cried, as well as they could speak, " Lord, strengthen thy 
servant, and keep thy promise." God answered their prayer, for Mr. Lawrence died 
as firmly and calmly as any one could wish to breathe his last. When one of the 
Popish chaplains told Mr. Wishart, the great Scotch martyr, that he had a devil in 
him, a child that stood by cried out, " A devil cannot speak such words as yonder 
man speaketh." One more instance is still nearer to our time. In a postcript to 
one of his letters, in which he details his persecution when first preaching in Moor- 
fields, Whitfield says, " I cannot help adding that several little boys and girls, who 
were fond of sitting round me on the pulpit while I preached, and handed to me 
people s notes though they were often pelted with eggs, dirt, &c., thrown at me 
never once gave way ; but, on the contrary, every time I was struck, turned up 
their little weeping eyes, and seemed to wish they could receive the blows for me. 
God make them, in their growing years, great and living martyrs for him who, out of 
the mouth of babes and sucklings, perfects praise 1 " He who delights in the songs 
of angels is pleased to honour himself in the eyes of his enemies by the praises of 
little children. What a contrast between the glory above the heavens, and the 
mouths of babes and sucklings I yet by both the name of God is made excellent. 

3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and 
the stars, which thou hast ordained ; 

4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that 
thou visitest him ? 

At the close of that excellent little manual entitled " The Solar System," written 
by Dr. Dick, we find an eloquent passage which beautifully expounds the text : 
A survey of the solar system has a tendency to moderate the pride of man and 
to promote humility. Pride is one of the distinguishing characteristics of puny 
man, and has been one of the chief causes of all the contentions, wars, devastations, 
systems of slavery, and ambitious projects which have desolated and demoralized 
our sinful world. Yet there is no disposition more incongruous to the character 
and circumstance of man. Perhaps there are no rational beings throughout the 
universe among whom pride would appear more unseemly or incompatible than 
in man, considering the situation in which he is placed. He is exposed to numerous 
degradations and calamities, to the rage of storms and tempests, the devastations 
of earthquakes and volcanoes, the fury of whirlwinds, and the tempestuous billows 
of the ocean, to the ravages of the sword, famine, pestilence, and numerous diseases ; 
and at length he must sink into the grave, and his body must become the companion 
of worms I The most dignified and haughty of the sons of men are liable to these 
and similar degradations as well as the meanest of the human family. Yet, in such 
circumstances, man that puny worm of the dust, whose knowledge is so limited, 
and whose follies are so numerous and glaring has the effrontery to strut in all 
the haughtiness of pride, and to glory in his shame. 

When other arguments and motives produce little effect on certain minds, no 
considerations seem likely to have a more powerful tendency to counteract this 
deplorable propensity in human beings, than those which are borrowed from the 
objects connected with astronomy. They show us what an insignificant being 
what a mere atom, indeed, man appears amidst the immensity of creation ! 
Though he is an object of the paternal care and mercy of the Most High, yet he 
is but as a grain of sand to the whole earth, when compared to the countless myriads 
of beings that people the amplitudes of creation. What is the whole of this globe 
on which we dwell compared with the solar system, which contains a mass of matter 
ten thousand times greater ? What is it in comparison of the hundred millions 
of suns and worlds which by the telescope have been described throughout the 
starry regions ? What, then, is a kingdom, a province, or a baronial territory, 
of which we are as proud as if we were the lords of the universe and for which we 
engage in so much devastation and carnage ? What are they, when set in 
competition with the glories of the sky ? Could we take our station on the lofty 
pinnacles of heaven, and look down on this scarcely distinguishable speck of earth, 
we should be ready to exclaim with Seneca, " Is it to this little spot that the great 



designs and vast desires of men are confined ? Is it for this there is so much dis 
turbance of nations, so much carnage, and so many ruinous wars ? Oh, the folly of 
deceived men, to imagine great kingdoms in the compass of an atom, to raise armies 
to decide a point of earth with the sword ! " Dr. Chalmers, in his Astronomical 
Discourses, very truthfully says, " We gave you but a feeble image of our comparative 
insignificance, when we said that the glories of an extended forest would suffer 
no more from the fall of a single leaf, than the glories of this extended universe 
would suffer though the globe we tread upon, and all that it inherits, should 
dissolve. " 

5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned 
him with glory and honour. 

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou 
hast put all things under his feet : 

7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field ; 

8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through 
the paths of the sea. 

These verses may set forth man s position among the creatures before he fell ; 
but as they are, by the apostle Paul, appropriated to man as represented by the 
Lord Jesus, it is best to give most weight to that meaning. In order of dignity, 
man stood next to the angels, and a little lower than they ; in the Lord Jesus this 
was accomplished, for he was made a little lower than the angels by the suffering 
of death. Man in Eden had the full command of all creatures, and they came 
before him to receive their names as an act of homage to him as the vicegerent of 
God to them. Jesus in his glory, is now Lord, not only of all living, but of all created 
things, and, with the exception of him who put all things under him, Jesus is Lord 
of all, and his elect, in him, are raised to a dominion wider than that of the first 
Adam, as shall be more clearly seen at his coming. Well might the Psalmist wonder 
at the singular exaltation of man in the scale of being, when he marked his utter 
nothingness in comparison with the starry universe. 

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels a little lower in nature, since 
they are immortal, and but a little, because time is short ; and when that is over, 
saints are no longer lower than the angels. The margin reads it, " A little while 
inferior to." Thou crownest him. The dominion that God has bestowed on man 
is a great glory and honour to him ; for all dominion is honour, and the highest 
is that which wears the crown. A full list is given of the subjugated creatures, 
to show that all the dominion lost by sin is restored in Christ Jesus. Let none 
of us permit the possession of any earthly creature to be a snare to us, but let us 
remember that we are to reign over them, and not to allow them to reign over us. 
Under our feet we must keep the world, and we must shun that base spirit which 
is content to let worldly cares and pleasures sway the empire of the immortal soul. 

9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth ! 

Here, like a good composer, the poet returns to his key-note, falling back, at 
it were, into his first state of wondering adoration. What he started with as a 
proposition in the first verse, he closes with as a well proven conclusion, with a 
sort of quod erat demonstrandum. O for grace to walk worthy of that excellent 
name which has been named upon us, and which we are pledged to magnify 1 


Title. " Gittith," was probably a musical instrument used at their rejoicings 
after the vintage. The vintage closed the civil year of the Jews, and this Psalm 
directs us to the latter-day glory, when the Lord shall be King over all the earth, 
having subdued all his enemies. It is very evident that the vintage was adopted 
as a figurative representation of the final destruction of all God s enemies. Isaiah 
Ixiii. 1 6 ; Rev. xix. 18 20. The ancient Jewish interpreters so understood 


this Psalm, and apply it to the mystic vintage. We may then consider this interesting 
composition as a prophetic anticipation of the kingdom of Christ, to be established 
in glory and honour in the " world to come," the habitable world. Heb. ii. 5. We 
see not yet all things put under his feet, but we are sure that the Word of God shall 
be fulfilled, and every enemy, Satan, death, and hell, shall be for ever subdued and 
destroyed, and creation itself delivered from the bondage of corruption into the 
glorious liberty of the children of God. Rom. viii. 17 23. In the use of this 
Psalm, then, we anticipate that victory, and in the praise we thus celebrate, we go 
on from strength to strength till, with him who is our glorious Head, we ;ippear 
in Zion before God. W. Wilson, D.D., in loc. 

Whole Psalm. Now, consider but the scope of the Psalm, as the apostle 
quotcth it to prove the world to come. Heb. ii. Any one that reads the Psalm 
would think that the Psalmist doth but set forth old Adam in his kingdom, in his 
paradise, made a little lower than the angels for we have spirits wrapped up in 
flesh and blood, whereas they are spirits simply a degree lower, as if they were 
dukes, and we marquises ; one would think, I say, that this were all his meaning, 
and that it is applied to Christ but by way of allusion. But the truth is, the apostle 
bringeth it in to prove and to convince these Hebrews, to whom he wrote, that 
that Psalm was meant of Christ, of that man whom they expected to be the Messiah, 
the Man Christ Jesus. And that he doth it, I prove by the sixth verse it is the 
observation that Beza hath " One in a certain place," quoting David, Sw/copnVaro, 
hath testified ; so we may translate it, hath testified it, etiam atque etiam, testified 
most expressly ; he bringeth an express proof for it that it was meant of the Man 
Christ Jesus ; therefore it is not an allusion. And indeed it was Beza that did first 
begin that interpretation that I read of, nnd himself therefore doth excuse it and 
make an apology for it, that he diverteth out of the common road, though since 
many others have followed him. 

Now the scope of the Psalm is plainly this : in Rom. v. 14, you read that Adam 
was a type of him that was to come. Now in Psalm viii. you find there Adam s 
world, the type of a world to come ; he was the first Adam, and had a world, so 
the second Adam hath a world also appointed for him ; there are his oxen and his 
sheep, and the fowls of the air, whereby are meant other things, devils perhaps, 
and wicked men, the prince of the air ; as by the heavens there, the angels, or the 
apostles rather " the heavens declare the glory of God ; " that is applied to the 
apostles, that were preachers of the gospel. 

To make this plain to you, that that Psalm where the phrase is used, "All things 
under his feet," and quoted by the apostle in Eph. i. 22 therefore it is proper 
was not meant of man in innocency, but of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ ; 
and therefore, answerably, that the world there is not this world, but a world on 
purpose made for this Messiah, as the other was for Adam. 

First, it was not meant of man in innocency properly and principally. Why ? 
Because in the second verse he saith, " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings 
hast thou ordained strength." There were no babes in the time of Adam s innocency, 
he fell before there were any. Secondly, he addeth, " That thou mightest still 
the enemy and the avenger ; " the devil that is, for he showed himself the enemy 
there, to be a manslayer from the beginning. God would use man to still him ; 
alas ! he overcame Adam presently. It must be meant of another therefore, one 
that is able to still this enemy and avenger. 

Then he saith, " How excellent is thy name in all the earth ! who hast set thy 
glory above the heavens." Adam had but paradise, he never propagated God "s 
name over all the earth ; he did not continue so long before he fell as to beget sons ; 
much less did he found it in the heavens. 

Again, verse 4, " What is man, and the son of man ? " Adam, though he was 
man, yet he was not the son of man ; he is called indeed, " the son of God " (Luke 
iii. 38), but he was not filius hominis. I remember Ribera urgeth that. 

But take an argument the apostle himself useth to prove it. This man, saith 
he, must have all subject to him ; all but God, saith he ; he must have the angels 
subject to him, for he hath put all principalities and powers under his feet, saith he. 
This could not be Adam, it could not be the man that had this world in a state of 
innocency ; much less had Adam all under his feet. No, my brethren, it was too 
great a vassalage for Adam to have the creatures thus bow to him. But they are 
thus to Jesus Christ, angels and all ; they are all under his feet, he is far above 


Secondly, it is not meant of man fallen, that is as plain ; the apostle himself 
saith so. " We see not," saith he, " all things subject unto him." Some think that 
it is meant as an objection that the apostle answereth ; but it is indeed to prove 
that man fallen cannot be meant in Psalm viii. Why ? Because, saith he, we 
do not see anything, all things at least, subject unto him ; you have not any one 
man, or the whole race of man, to whom all things have been subject ; the creatures 
are sometimes injurious to him. We do not see him, saith he ; that is, the nature 
of man in general considered. Take all the monarchs in the world, they never 
conquered the whole world ; there was never any one man that was a sinner that 
had all subject to him. " But we see," saith he mark the opposition " but 
we see Jesus," that Man, " crowned with glory and honour ; " therefore, it is this 
Man, and no man else ; the opposition implieth it "... So now it remaineth then, 
that it is only Christ, God-man, that is meant in Psalm viii. And indeed, and in 
truth, Christ himself inlerpreteth the Psalm of himself ; you have two witnesses 
to confirm it, Christ himself and the apostle. Matt. xxi. 16. When they cried 
hosanna to Christ, or " save now," and made him the Saviour of the world, the 
Pharisees were angry, our Saviour confuteth them by this very Psalm : " Have 
ye not read," saith he, " out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected 
praise ? " He quoteth this very Psalm which speaks of himself ; and Paul, by 
his warrant, and perhaps from that hint, doth thus argue out of it, and convince 
the Jews by it. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 1. " How excellent is thy name in all the earth ! " How illustrious is 
the name of Jesus throughout the world I His incarnation, birth, humble, and 
obscure life, preaching, miracles, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, are 
celebrated through the whole world. His religion, the gifts and graces of his Spirit, 
his people Christians, his gospel, and the preachers of it, are everywhere spoken 
of. No name is so universal, no power and influence so generally felt, as those 
of the Saviour of mankind. Amen. Adam Clarke. 

Verse 1. "Above the heavens;" not in the heavens, but " above the heavens;" 
even greater, beyond, and higher than they ; " angels, principalities, and powers, 
being made subject unto him." As Paul says, he hath " ascended up far above 
all heavens." And with this his glory above the heaven is connected, his sending 
forth his name upon earth through his Holy Spirit. As the apostle adds in this 
passage, " He hath ascended up far above all heavens ; and he gave some apostles." 
And thus here : " Thy name excellent in all the world ; " " Thy glory above the 
heavens." Isaac Williams. 

Verse 2. " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength," 
etc. In a prophetic manner, speaking of that which was to be done by children 
many hundreds of years after, for the asserting of his infinite mercy in sending 
his Son Jesus Christ into the world to save us from our sins. For so the Lord 
applieth their crying, " Hosannah to the Son of David " in the temple. And 
thus both Basil and other ancients, and some new writers also understand it. But 
Calvin will have it meant of God s wonderful providing for them, by turning their 
mothers blood into milk, and giving them the faculty to suck, thus nourishing 
and preserving them,which sufficiently convinceth all gainsay ers of God s wonderful 
providence towards the weakest and most shiftless of all creatures. John Mayer, 

Verse 2. Who are these " babes and sucklings ? " 1. Man in general, who 
springeth from so weak and poor a beginning as that of babes and sucklings, yet is 
at length advanced to such power as to grapple with, and overcome the enemy and 
the avenger. 2. David in particular, who being but a ruddy youth, God used 
him as an instrument to discomfit Goliath of Gath. 3. More especially our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who assuming our nature and all the sinless infirmities of it, 
and submitting to the weakness of an infant, and after dying is gone in the same 
nature to reign in heaven, till he hath brought all his enemies under his feet. 
Psalm ex. 1, and 1 Cor. xv. 27. Then was our human nature exalted above 
all other creatures, when the Son of God was made of a woman, carried in the 
womb. 4. The apostles, who to outward appearance were despicable, in a manner 
children and sucklings in comparison of the great ones of the world; poor 
despised creatures, yet principal instruments of God s service and glory. There- 
lore tis notable, that when Christ glorifleth hii Father for th wise and free 


dispensation of his saving grace (Matt. xi. 25), he saith, " I thank thee, O Father, 
Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and 
prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," so called from the meanness of their 
condition. . . . And you shall see it was spoken when the disciples were sent abroad, 
and had power given them over unclean spirits. " In that hour Jesus rejoiced in 
spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast 
hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." 
This he acknowledged to be an act of infinite condescension in God. 5. Those children 
that cried Hosanna to Christ, make up part of the sense, for Christ defendeth their 
practice by this Scripture. ... 6. Not only the apostles, but all those that fight 
under Christ s banner, and are listed into his confederacy, may be called babes and 

sucklings ; first, because of their condition ; secondly, their disposition 

1. Because of their condition. . . . God in the government of the world is pleased 
to subdue the enemies of his kingdom by weak and despised instruments. 2. Because 
of their disposition : they are most humble spirited. We are told (Matt, xviii. 3), 
" Except ye be converted, and become as little children," etc. As if he had 
said, you strive for pre-eminence and worldly greatness in my kingdom ; I tell 
you my kingdom is a kingdom of babes and containeth none but the humble, and 
such as are little in their own eyes, and are contented to be small and despised 
in the eyes of others, and so do not seek after great matters in the world. A young 
child knoweth not what striving or state meaneth, and therefore by an emblem 
and visible representation of a child set in the midst of them, Christ would take 
them off from the expectation of a carnal kingdom. Thomas Manton, 1620 1677. 

Verse 2. " That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." This very 
confusion and revenge upon Satan, who was the cause of man s fall, was aimed 
at by God at first ; therefore is the first promise and preaching of the gospel to 
Adam brought in rather in sentencing him than in speaking to Adam, that the 
seed of the woman should break the serpent s head, it being in God s aim as much 
to confound him as to save poor man. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 2. The work that is done in love loses half its tedium and difficulty. 
It is as with a stone, which in the air and on the dry ground we strain at but cannot 
stir. Flood the field where it lies, bury the block beneath the rising water ; and 
now, when its head is submerged, bend to the work. Put your strength to it. Ah I 
it moves, rises from its bed, rolls on before your arm. So, when under the heavenly 
influences of grace the tide of love rises, and goes swelling over our duties and 
difficulties, a child can do a man s work, and a man can do a giant s. Let love 
be present in the heart, and " out of the mouth of babes and sucklings God ordaineth 
strength." Thomas Guthrie, D.D. 

Verse 2. " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings," etc. That poor martyr, 
Alice Driver, in the presence of many hundreds, did so silence Popish bishops, 
that she and all blessed God that the proudest of them could not resist the spirit 
in a silly woman; so I say to thee, " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings" God 
will be honoured. Even thou, silly worm, shalt honour him, when it shall appear 
what God hath done for thee, what lusts he hath mortified, and what graces he hath 
granted thee. The Lord can yet do greater things for thee if thou wilt trust him. 
He can carry thee upon eagles wings, enable thee to bear and suffer strong affliction 
for him, to persevere to the end, to live by faith, and to finish thy course with 
joy. Oh 1 in that he hath made thee low in heart, thy other lowness shall be so 
much the more honour to thee. Do not all as much and more wonder at God s 
rare workmanship in the ant, the poorest bug that creeps, as in the biggest elephant? 
That so many parts and limbs should be united in such a little space ; that so poor 
a creature should provide in the summer-time her winter food. Who sees not as 
much of God in a bee as in a greater creature ? Alas I in a great body we look 
for great abilities and wonder not. Therefore, to conclude, seeing God hath clothed 
thy uncomely parts with the more honour, bless God, and bear thy baseness more 
equally ; thy greatest glory is yet to come, that when the wise of the world have 
rejected the counsel of God, thou hast (with those poor publicans and soldiers), 
magnified the ministry of the gospel. Surely the Lord will also be admired in thee 
(1 Thess. i.), a poor silly creature, that even thou wert made wise to salvation and 
believest in that day. Be still poor in thine own eyes, and the Lord will make 
thy proudest scornful enemies to worship at thy feet, to confess God hath done 
much for thee, and wish thy portion when God shall visit them. Daniel Rogers. 
1 642. 


Verse 3. " When I consider." Meditation fits for humiliation. When David 
had been contemplating the works of creation, their splendour, harmony, motion, 
influence, he lets the plumes of pride fall, and begins to have self-abasing* thoughts. 
" When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which 
thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him ? " Thomas Watson. 

Verse 3. " When I consider thy heavens," etc. David surveying the firmament, 
broke forth into this consideration : " When I consider thy heavens, the work of 
thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast created, what is man ? " etc. How 
cometh he to mention the moon and stars, and omit the sun ? the other being but 
his pensioners, shining with that exhibition of light which the bounty of the sun 
allots them. It is answered, this was David s night meditation, when the sun, 
departing to the other world, left the lesser lights only visible in heaven ; and as 
the sky is best beheld by day in the glory thereof, so too it is best surveyed by night 
in the variety of the same. Night was made for man to rest in. But when I cannot 
sleep, may I, with the Psalmist, entertain my waking with good thoughts. Not 
to use them as opium, to invite my corrupt nature to slumber, but to bolt out bad 
thoughts, which otherwise would possess my soul. Thomas Fuller, 1608 1661. 

Verse 3. " Thy heavens." The carnal mind sees God in nothing, not even 
in spiritual things, his word and ordinances. The spiritual mind sees him in every 
thing, even in natural things, in looking on the heavens and the earth and all the 
creatures " THY heavens ; " sees all in that notion, in their relation to God as 
his work, and in them his glory appearing ; stands in awe, fearing to abuse his 
creatures and his favours to his dishonour. " The day is thine, and the night also 
is thine ; " therefore ought not I to forget thee through the day, nor in the night. 
Robert Leighton, D.D. 

Verse 3. " The stars." I cannot say that it is chiefly the contemplation of their 
infinitude, and the immeasurable space they occupy, that enraptures me in the 
stars. These conditions rather tend to confuse the mind ; and in this view of 
countless numbers and unlimited space there lies, moreover, much that belongs 
rather to a temporary and human than to an eternally abiding consideration. Still 
less do I regard them absolutely with reference to the life after this. But the mere 
thought they are so far beyond and above everything terrestrial the feeling, that 
before them everything earthly so utterly vanishes to nothing that the single 
man is so infinitely insignificant in the comparison with these worlds strewn over 
all space that his destinies, his enjoyments, and sacrifices, to which he attaches 
such a minute importance how all these fade like nothing before such immense 
objects ; then, that the constellations bind together all the races of man, and all 
the eras of the earth, that they have beheld all that has passed since the beginning 
of time, and will see all that passes until its end ; in thoughts like these I can always 
lose myself with a silent delight in the view of the starry firmament. It is, in very 
truth, a spectacle of the highest solemnity, when, in the stillness of night, in a 
heaven quite clear, the stars, like a choir of worlds, arise and descend, while existence, 
as it were, falls asunder into two separate parts ; the one, belonging to earth, grows 
dumb in the utter silence of night, and thereupon the other mounts upward in 
all its elevation, splendour, and majesty. And, when contemplated from this 
point of view, the starry heavens have truly a moral influence on the mind. 
Alexander Von Humboldt, 1850. 

Verse 3. " When I consider thy heavens," etc. Could we transport ourselves 
above the moon, could we reach the highest star above our heads, we should in 
stantly discover new skies, new stars, new suns, new systems, and perhaps more 
magnificently adorned. But even there, the vast dominions of our great Creator 
would not terminate ; we should then find, to our astonishment, that we had only 
arrived at the borders of the works of God. It is but little that we can know of 
his works, but that little should teach us to be humble, and to admire the divine 
power and goodness. How great must that Being be who produced these immense 
globes out of nothing, who regulates their courses, and whose mighty hand directs 
and supports them all. What is the clod of earth which we inhabit, with all the 
magnificent scenes it presents to us, in comparison of those innumerable worlds ? 
Were this earth annihilated, its absence would no more be observed than that of 
a grain of sand from the sea shore. What then are provinces and kingdoms when 
compared with those worlds ? They are but atoms dancing in the air, which are 
discovered to us by the sunbeams. What then am I, when reckoned among the 
Infinite number of God s creatums ? I am loit in mine own nothingness I But 


little as I appear in this respect, I find myself great in others. There fs great beauty 
in this starry firmament which God has chosen for his throne 1 How admirable 
are those celestial bodies ! I am dazzled with their splendour, and enchanted 
with their beauty I But notwithstanding this, however beautiful, and however 
richly adorned, yet this sky is void of intelligence. It is a stranger to its own beauty, 
while I, who am mere clay, moulded by a divine hand, am endowed with sense 
and reason. I can contemplate the beauty of these shining worlds ; nay, more, 
I am already, to a certain degree, acquainted with their sublime Author ; and 
by faith I see some small rays of his divine glory. O may I be more and more 
acquainted with his works, and make the study of them my employ, till by a glorious 
change I rise to dwell with him above the starry regions. Christopher Christian 
Sturm s " Reflections," 17501786. 

Verse 3. " Work of God s fingers." That is most elaborate and accurate : a 
metaphor from embroiderers, or from them that make tapestry. John Trapp. 

Verse 3. " When I consider thy heavens," etc. It is truly a most Christian 
exercise to extract a sentiment of piety from the works and the appearances of 
nature. It has the authority of the sacred writers upon its side, and even our 
Saviour himself gives it the weight and the solemnity of his example. " Behold 
the lilies of the field ; they toil not, neither do they spin, yet your heavenly Father 
careth for them." He expatiates on the beauty of a single flower, and draws from 
it the delightful argument of confidence in God. He gives us to see that taste 
may be combined with piety, and that the same heart may be occupied with all 
that is serious in the contemplations of religion, and be at the same time alive to 
the charms and the loveliness of nature. The Psalmist takes a still loftier flight. 
He leaves the world, and lifts his imagination to that mighty expanse which spreads 
above it and around it. He wings his way through space, and wanders in thought 
over its immeasurable regions. Instead of a dark and unpeopled solitude, he 
sees it crowded with splendour, and filled with the energy of the divine presence. 
Creation rises in its immensity before him, and the world, with all which it inherits, 
shrinks into littleness at a contemplation so vast and so overpowering. He wonders 
that he is not overlooked amid the grandeur and the variety which are on every 
side of him ; and, passing upward from the majesty of nature to the majesty of 
nature s Architect, he exclaims, " What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or 
the son of man that thou shouldest deign to visit him ? " It is not for us to say 
whether inspiration revealed to the psalmist the wonders of the modern astronomy. 
But, even though the mind be a perfect stranger to the science of these enlightened 
times, the heavens present a great and an elevating spectacle, an immense concave 
reposing upon the circular boundary of the world, and the innumerable lights which 
are suspended from on high, moving with solemn regularity along its surface. It 
seems to have been at night that the piety of the Psalmist was awakened by this 
contemplation ; when the moon and the stars were visible, and not when the sun had 
risen in his strength and thrown a splendour around him, which bore down and 
eclipsed all the lesser glories of the firmament. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., 1817. 

Vtrte 3. " Thy heavens " : 

This prospect vast, what is it ? weigh d aright. 

Tis nature s system of divinity, 

And every student of the night inspires. 

Tis elder Scripture, writ by God s own hand : 

Scripture authentic ! uncorrupt by man. 

Edward Young. 

Verse 3. " The stars." When I gazed into these stars, have they not looked 
down on me as if with pity from their serene spaces, like eyes glistening with heavenly 
tears over the little lot of man ! Thomas Carlyle. 

Verses 3, 4. " When I consider thy heavens," etc. Draw spiritual inferences 
from occasional objects. David did but wisely consider the heavens, and he breaks 
out into self-abasement and humble admirations of God. Glean matter of in 
struction to yourselves, and praise to your Maker from everything you see ; it 
will be a degree of restoration to a state of innocency, since this was Adam s task 
in paradise. Dwell not upon any created object only as a virtuoso, to gratify your 
rational curiosity, but as a Christian, call religion to the feast, and make a spiritual 
improvement. No creature can meet our eyes but affords us lessons worthy of our 
thoughts, besides the general notices of the power and wisdom of the Creator. Thus 
may the sheep read us a lesson of patience, the dove of innocence, the ant and bee 


raise blushes in us for our sluggishness, and the stupid ox and dull ass correct and 
shame our ungrateful ignorance He whose eyes are open cannot want an in 
structor, unless he wants a heart. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 4. " What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? " etc. My readers 
must be careful to mark the design of the Psalmist, which is to enhance, by this 
comparison, the infinite goodness of God ; for it is, indeed, a wonderful thing that 
the Creator of heaven, whose glory is so surpassingly great as to ravish us with 
the highest admiration, condescends so far as graciously to take upon him the care 
of the human race. That the Psalmist makes this contrast may be inferred from 
the Hebrew word ", enosh, which we have rendered man, and which expresses 

the frailty of man rather than any strength or power which he possesses 

Almost all interpreters render IPS, pakad, the last word of this verse, to visit ; and 
I am unwilling to differ from them, since this sense suits the passage very well. 
But as it sometimes signifies to remember, and as we will often find in the Psalms 
the repetition of the same thought in different words, it may here be very properly 
translated to remember ; as if David had said, " This is a marvellous thing, that 
God thinks upon men, and remembers them continually." John Calvin, 1509 1564. 

Verse 4. " What is man ? " But, O God, what a little lord hast thou made 
over this great world ! The least corn of sand is not so small to the whole earth, 
as man is to the heaven. When I see the heavens, the sun, the moon, and stars, 
God, what is man ? Who would think thou shouldst make all these creatures 
for one, and that one well-near the least of all ? Yet none but he can see what 
thou hast done ; none but he can admire and adore thee in what he seeth : how 
had he need to do nothing but this, since he alone must do it 1 Certainly the price 
and value of things consist not in the quantity ; one diamond is worth more than 
many quarries of stone ; one loadstone hath more virtue than mountains of earth. 
It is lawful for us to praise thee in ourselves. All thy creation hath not more wonder 
in it than one of us : other creatures thou madest by a simple command ; MAN, 
not without a divine consultation : others at once ; man thou didst form, then 
inspire : others in several shapes, like to none but themselves ; man, after thine 
own image : others with qualities fit for service ; man, for dominion. Man had 
his name from thee ; they had their names from man. How should we be consecrated 
to thee above all others, since thou hast bestowed more cost on us than other ! 
Joseph Hall, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, 15741656. 

Verse 4. " What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? or the son of man, that 
thou shouldst visit him ? " And (Job vii. 17, 18) " What is man, that thou shouldst 
magnify him ? and that thou shouldst set thy heart upon him ? and that thou shouldst 
visit him every morning ? " Man, in the pride of his heart, seeth no such great 
matter in it ; but a humble soul is filled with astonishment. " Thus saith the 
high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy ; I dwell in the 
high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive 
the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 
Ivii. 15. Oh, saith the humble soul, will the Lord have respect unto such a vile worm 
as I am ? Will the Lord acquaint himself with such a sinful wretch as I am ? Will 
the Lord open his arms, his bosom, his heart to me ? Shall such a loathsome creature 
as I find favour in his eyes ? In Ezek. xvi. 1 5, we have a relation of the wonderful 
condescension of God to man, who is there resembled to a wretched infant cast 
out in the day of its birth, in its blood and fllthiness, no eye pitying it ; such loath 
some creatures are we before God ; and yet when he passed by, and saw us polluted 
in our blood, he said unto us, " Live." It is doubled because of the strength of its 
nature ; it was " the time of love " (verse 8). This was love indeed, that God should 
take a filthy, wretched thing, and spread his skirts over it, and cover its nakedness, 
and swear unto it, and enter into a covenant with it, and make it his ; that is, that 
he should espouse this loathsome thing to himself, that he would be a husband to 
it ; this love unfathomable, love inconceivable, self-principle love ; this is the 
love of God to man, for God is love. Oh, the depth of the riches of the bounty 
and goodness of God I How is his love wonderful, and his grace past finding out 1 
How do you find and feel your hearts affected upon the report of these things ? 
Do you not see matter of admiration and cause of wonder ? Are you not as it 
were launched forth into an ocean of goodness, where you can see no shore, nor 
feel no bottom ? Ye may make a judgment of yourselves by the motions and 
affections that ye feel in yourselves at the mention of this. For thus Christ judged 


of the faith of the centurion that said unto him, " Lord, I am not worthy that thou 
shouldst come under my roof. When Jesus heard this, he marvelled, and said to 
them that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not 
in Israel." Matthew viii. 8-10. If, then, you feel not your souls mightily affected 
with the condescension of God, say thus unto your souls, What aileth thee, O my 
soul, that thou art no more affected with the goodness of God ? Art thou dead, 
that thou canst not feel ? Or art thou blind that thou canst not see thyself com 
passed about with astonishing goodness ? Behold the King of glory descending 
from the habitation of his majesty, and coming to visit thee 1 Hearest not thou 
his voice, saying, "Open to me, my sister: behold, I stand at the door and knock. 
Lift up yourselves, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, that the 
King of glory may come in ? " Behold, O my soul, how he waits still while thou 
hast refused to open to him I Oh, the wonder of his goodness ! Oh, the 
condescension of his love, to visit me, to sue unto me, to wait upon me, to be ac 
quainted with me ! Thus work up your souls into an astonishment at the 
condescension of God. James Janeway, 1674. 

Verse 4. Man, in Hebrew infirm or miserable man by which it is apparent 
that he speaks of man not according to the state of his creation, but as fallen Into 
a state of sin, and misery, and mortality. Art mindful of him, i.e., carest for him, 
and conferrest such high favours upon him. The son of man,Heb., the son of Adam 
that great apostate from and rebel against God ; the sinful son of a sinful father 
his son by likeness of disposition and manners, no less than by procreation ; all 
which tends to magnify the divine mercy. That thou visitest him not in anger, 
as that word is sometimes used, but with thy grace and mercy, as it is taken in 
Gen. xxi. 1 ; Ex. iv. 31 ; Psalm Ixv. 9 ; cvi. 4 ; cxliv. 3. 

Verse 4. " What is man ? " The Scripture gives many answers to this 
question. Ask the prophet Isaiah, " What is man ? " and he answers (xl. 6), man 
is " grass " " All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of 
the field." Ask David, " What is man ? " He answers (Psalm Ixii. 9), man is 
" a lie," not a liar only, or a deceiver, but " a lie," and a deceit. All the answers 
the Holy Ghost gives concerning man, are to humble man : man is ready to flatter 

himself, and one man to flatter another, but God tells us plainly what we are 

It is a wonder that God should vouchsafe a gracious look upon such a creature 
as man ; it is wonderful, considering the distance between God and man, as man 
is a creature and God the creator. " What is man," that God should take notice 
of him ? Is he not a clod of earth, a piece of clay ? But consider him as a sinful 
and an unclean creature, and we may wonder to amazement : what is an unclean 
creature that God should magnify him ? Will the Lord indeed put value upon 
filthiness, and fix his approving eye upon an impure thing ? One step further ; 
what is rebellious man, man an enemy to God, that God should magnify him I 
what admiration can answer this question ? Will God prefer his enemies, and 
magnify those who would cast him down ? Will a prince exalt a traitor, or give 
him honour who attempts to take away his life ? The sinful nature of man is an 
enemy to the nature of God, and would pull God out of heaven ; yet God even at 
that time is raising man to heaven : sin would lessen the great God, and yet God 
greatens sinful man. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 4. " What is man ? " Oh, the grandeur and littleness, the excellence 
and the corruption, the majesty and meanness of man I Pascal, 1623 1662. 

Verse 4. " Thou visitest him." To visit is, first, to afflict, to chasten, yea, to 
punish ; the highest judgments in Scripture come under the notions of visitations. 
" Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children " (Ex. xxxiv. 7), that is, 
punishing them. . . . And it is a common speech with us when a house hath the 
plague, which is one of the highest strokes of temporal affliction, we use to say, 
" Such a house is visited." Observe then, afflictions are visitations. . . . Secondly, 
to visit, in a good sense, signifies to show mercy, and to refresh, to deliver and to 
bless ; " Naomi heard how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them 
bread." Ruth i. 6. " The Lord visited Sarah," etc. Gen xxi. 1, 2. That greatest 
mercy and deliverance that ever the children of men had, is thus expressed, " The 
Lord hath visited and redeemed his people." Luke i. 68. Mercies are visitations ; 
when God comes in kindness and love to do us good, he visiteth us. And these 
mercies are called visitations in two respects: 1. Because God comes near to us when 
he doth us good ; mercy is a drawing near to a soul, a drawing near to a place. 
A* when God sends a judgment, or afflicts, he is said to depart and go away from 


that place ; so when he doth us good, he comes near, and as it were applies himself 
in favour to our persons and habitations. 2. They are called a visitation because 
of the freeness of them. A visit is one of the freest things in the world ; there is 
no obligation but that of love to make a visit ; because such a man is my friend 
and I love him, therefore I visit him. Hence, that greatest act of free grace in 
redeeming the world is called a visitation, because it was as freely done as ever 
any friend made a visit to see his friend, and with infinite more freedom. There 
was no obligation on man s side at all, many unkindnesses and neglects there were ; 
God in love came to redeem man. Thirdly, to visit imports an act of care and 
inspection, of tutorage and direction. The pastor s office over the flock is expressed 
by this act (Zech. x. 3 ; Acts xv. 36) ; and the care we ought to have of the fatherless 
and widows is expressed by visiting them. " Pure religion," saith the apostle James, 
" is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction " (chap. i. 27) ; and 
in Matt. xxv. 34, Christ pronounceth the blessing on them who, when he was in 
prison, visited him, which was not a bare seeing, or asking how do you, but it 
was care of Christ in his imprisonment, and helpfulness and provision for him in hi* 
afflicted members. That sense also agrees well with this place, Job vii. 17, 18, 
" What is man, that thou shouldst visit him ? " Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 4. " What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? or the $on of man, that 
thou visitest him ? " 

Lord, what is man that thou 
So mindful art of him ? Or what s the son 
Of man, that thou the highest heaven didst bow, 
And to his aide didst runne ? 

Man s but a piece of clay 
That s animated by thy heavenly breath, 
And when that breath thou tak st away, 
He s clay again by death. 

He is not worthy of the least 

Of all thy mercies at the best. 

Baser than clay is he, 

For sin hath made him like the beasts that perish, 
Though next the angels he was in degree ; 
Yet this beast thou dost cherish. 

He is not worthy of the least, 

Of all thy mercies, he s a beast. 

Worse than a beast is man, 
Who after thine own image made at first, 
Became the divel s sonne by sin. And can 
A thing be more accurst ? 

Yet thou thy greatest mercy hast 

On this accursed creature cast. 

Thou didst thyself abase, 
A iid put off all thy robes of majesty, 
Taking his nature to give him thy grace, 

To save his life didst dye. 
H is not worthy of the least 
Of all thy mercies ; one s a feast. 

Lo ! man is made now even 
With the blest angels, yea, superior farre. 
Since Christ sat down at God s right hand in haavtfl, 

And God and man one are. 
Thus all thy mercies man inherits 
Though not the least of them he merits. 

Thomas Washbourne. D.D., 1654. 
Verse 4. " What is man ? " 

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, 
How complicate, how wonderful is man ! 
How passing wonder HE who made him such ! 
Who centred in our make such strange extrttnas ! 
From different natures marvellously mix d, 
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds ! 
Distinguisk d link in being s endless chain ! 


Midway from nothing to the Deity ! 
A beam ethereal, sullied and absorb d, 
Though sullied and dishonour d, still divine 1 
Dim miniature of greatness absolute ! 
An heir of glory ! a frail child of dust ! 
Helpless, immortal ! insect infinite ! 
A worm ! a god ! I tremble at myself, 
And in myself am lost. 

Edward Young. 16811775. 

Verses 48. " What is man," etc. 

Man is ev ry thing, 

And more : he is a tree, yet bears no fruit ; 
A beast, yet is, or should be more : 
Reason and speech we onely bring. 
Parrats may thank us, if they are not mute, 
They go upon the score. 

Man is all symmetric, 
Full of proportions, one limbe to another, 
And all to all the world besides : 
Each part may call the farthest, brother. 
For head with foot hath private amitie, 
And both with moons and tides. 

Nothing hath got so farre, 
But man hath caught and kept it, as his prey. 
His eyes dismount the highest starre : 
He is in little all the sphere. 
Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they 
Finde their acquaintance there. 

For us the windes do blow ; 

The earth doth rest, heav n move, and fountains flow. 
Nothing we see, but means our good, 
As our delight, or as our treasure : 
The whole is, either our cupboard of food, 
Or cabinet of pleasure. 

The starres have us to bed ; 

Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws : 
Musick and light attend our head. 
All things unto our flesh are kinde 
In their descent and being ; to our miiide 
In their ascent and cause. 

Each thing is full of dutie : 
Waters united are our navigation ; 
Distinguished, our habitation ; 
Below, our drink ; above, our meat : 
Both are our cleanlinesse. Hath one sacli beautie ? 
Then how are all things neat ! 

More servants wait on man. 
Than he l notice of : in ev ry path 

He treads down that which doth befriend him, 
When sicknesse makes him pale and wan. 
Oh, mightie love ! Man is one world, and hath 
Another to attend him. 

George Herbert, 1593. 

Verse 5. " Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." Perhaps it was 
not so much in nature as in position that man, as first formed, was inferior to the 
angels. At all events, we can be sure that nothing higher could be affirmed of the 
angels, than that they were made in the image of God. If, then, they had originally 
superiority over man, it must have been in the degree of resemblance. The angel 
was made immortal, intellectual, holy, powerful, glorious, and in these properties 
lay their likeness to the Creator. But were not these properties given also to man ? 
Was not man made immortal, intellectual, holy, powerful, glorious? And if the 
angel excelled the man, it was not, we may believe, in the possession of properties 
which had no counterpart in the man ; both bore God s image, and both therefore 


had lineaments of the attributes which centre in Deity. Whether or not these 
lineaments were more strongly marked in the angel than in the man, it were pre 
sumptuous to attempt to decide ; but it is sufficient for our present purposes that the 
same properties must have been common to both, since both were modelled after 
the same divine image ; and whatever originally the relative positions of the angel 
and the man, we cannot question that since the fall man has been fearfully inferior 
to the angels. The effect of transgression has been to debase all his powers, and so 
bring him down from his high rank in the scale of creation ; but, however degraded 
and sunken, he still retains the capacities of his original formation, and since these 
capacities could have differed in nothing but degree from the capacities of the angel, 
It must be clear that they may be so purged and enlarged as to produce, if we may 

not say to restore, the equality Oh I it may be, we again say, that an erroneous 

estimate is formed, when we separate by an immense space the angel and the man, 
and bring down the human race to a low station in the scale of creation. If I search 
through the records of science, I may indeed find that, for the furtherance of magni 
ficent purposes, God hath made man " a little lower than the angels ; " and I cannot 
close my eyes to the melancholy fact, that as a consequence upon apostasy there 
has been a weakening and a rifling of those splendid endowments which Adam 
might have transmitted unimpaired to his children. And yet the Bible teems with 
notices, that so far from being by nature higher than men, angels even now possess 
not an importance which belongs to our race. It is a mysterious thing, and one to 
which we scarcely dare allude, that there has arisen a Redeemer of fallen men, but 
not of fallen angels. We would build no theory on so awful and inscrutable a truth ; 
but is it too much to say, that the interference on the behalf of man and the non 
interference on the behalf of angels, gives ground for the persuasion, that men occupy 
at least not a lower place than angels in the love and the solicitude of their Maker ? 
Besides, are not angels represented as " ministering spirits, sent forth to minister 
to the heirs of salvation ? " And what is the idea coveyed by such a representation, 
if it be not that believers, being attended and waited on by angels, are as children 
of God marching forwards to a splendid throne, and so elevated amongst creatures, 
that those who have the wind in their wings, and are brilliant as a flame of fire, 
delight to do them honour ? And, moreover, does not the repentance of a single 
sinner minister gladness to a whole throng of angels ? And who shall say that 
this sending of a new wave of rapture throughout the hierarchy of heaven does not 
betoken such immense sympathy with men as goes far towards proving him the 
occupant of an immense space in the scale of existence ? We may add also, that 
angels learn of men ; inasmuch as Paul declares to the Ephesians, that " now unto 
the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the church, the 
manifold wisdom of God." And when we further remember, that in one of those 
august visions with which the Evangelist John was favoured, he beheld the repre 
sentatives of the church placed immediately before the eternal throne, whilst angels, 
standing at a greater distance, thronged the outer circle, we seem to have accumulated 
proof that men are not to be considered as naturally inferior to angels that however 
they may have cast themselves down from eminence, and sullied the lustre and 
sapped the strength of their first estate, they are still capable of the very loftiest 
elevation, and require nothing but the being restored to their forfeited position, 
and the obtaining room for the development of their powers, in order to their shining 
forth as the illustrious ones of the creation, the breathing, burning images of the 

Godhead The Redeemer is represented as submitting to be humbled " made 

a little lower than the angels," for the sake or with a view to the glory that was to 
be the recompense of his sufferings. This is a very important representation one 
that thould be most attentively considered ; and from it may be drawn, we think, a 
strong and clear argument for the divinity of Christ. 

We could never see how it could be humility in any creature, whatever the dignity 
of his condition, to assume the office of a Mediator and to work out our reconciliation. 
We do not forget to how extreme degradation a Mediator must consent to be reduced, 
and through what suffering and ignominy he could alone achieve our redemption ; 
but neither do we forget the unmeasured exaltation which was to be the Mediator s 
reward, and which, if Scripture be true, was to make him far higher than the highest 
of principalities and powers ; and we know not where would have been the amazing 
humility, where the unparalleled condescension, had any mere creature consented 
to take the office on the prospect of such a recompense. A being who knew that he 
should be immeaurbly elevated if he did a certain thing, can hardly be commended 


for the greatness of his humility in doing that thing. The nobleman who should 
become a slave, knowing that in consequence he should be made a king, does not 
seem to us to afford any pattern of condescension. He must be the king already, 
incapable of obtaining any accession to his greatness, ere his entering the state of 
slavery can furnish an example of humility. And, in like manner, we can never 
perceive that any being but a divine Being can justly be said to have given a model 

of condescension in becoming our Redeemer If he could not lay aside the 

perfections, he could lay aside the glories of Deity ; without ceasing to be God he 
could appear to be man ; and herein we believe was the humiliation herein that 
self-emptying which Scripture identifies with our Lord s having been " made a 
little lower than the angels." In place of manifesting himself in the form of God, 
and thereby centering on himself the delighted and reverential regards of all unf alien 
orders of intelligences, he must conceal himself in the form of a servant, and no 
longer gathering that rich tribute of homage, which had flowed from every quarter 
of his unlimited empire, produced by his power, sustained by his providence, he had 
the same essential glory, the same real dignity, which he had ever had. These 
belonged necessarily to his nature, and could no more be parted with, even for a 
time, than could that nature itself. But every outward mark of majesty and of 
greatness might be laid aside ; and Deity, in place of coming down with such dazzling 
manifestations of supremacy as would have compelled the world he visited to fall 
prostrate and adore, might so veil his splendours, and so hide himself in an ignoble 
form, that when men saw him there should be no " beauty that they should desire 
him." And this was what Christ did, in consenting to be " made a little lower than 
the angels ; " and in doing this he emptied himself, or " made himself of no reputa 
tion." The very being who in the form of God had given its light and magnificence 
to heaven, appeared upon earth in the form of a servant ; and not merely so for 
every creature is God s servant, and therefore the form of a servant would have 
been assumed, had he appeared as an angel or an archangel but in the form of 
the lowest of these servants, being " made in the likeness of men " of men the 
degraded, the apostate, the perishing. Henry Melvill, B.D., 1854. 

Verses 5, 6. God magnifies man in the work of creation. The third verse shows 
us what it was that raised the Psalmist to this admiration of the goodness of God 
to man : " When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, 
which thou hast ordained ; Lord, what is man ? " God in the work of creation made 
all these things serviceable and instrumental for the good of man. What is man, 
that he should have a sun, moon, and stars, planted in the firmament for him ? 
What creature is this ? When great preparations are made in any place, much 
provisions laid in, and the house adorned with richest furnitures, we say, " What 
is this man that comes to such a house ? " When such a goodly fabric was raised 
up, the goodly house of the world adorned and furnished, we have reason admiringly 
to say, What is this man that must be the tenant or inhabitant of his house ? There 
is yet a higher exaltation of man in the creation ; man was magnified with the 
stamp of God s image, one part whereof the Psalmist describes in the sixth verse, 
" Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands ; thou hast put alt 
things under his feet," etc. Thus man was magnified in creation. What was man 
that he should have the rule of the world given him ? That he should be lord over 
the fish of the sea, and over the beasts of the field, and over the fowls of the air ? 
Again, man was magnified in creation, in that God set him in the next degree to 
the angels ; " Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels ; " there is the first 
part of the answer to this question, man was magnified in being made so excellent a 
creature, and in having so many excellent creatures made for him. All which may 
be understood of man as created in God s image ; but since the transgression it is 
peculiar to Christ, as the apostle applies it (Heb. ii. 6), and if those who have their 
blood and dignity restored by the work of redemption, which is the next part of 
man s exaltation. Joseph Caryl. 

Verses 5 8. Augustine having allegorised much about the wine-presses in 
the title of this Psalm, upon these words, " What is man, or the son of man," the 
one being called &)$, from misery, the other 07*1?, the Son of Adam, or man, saith, 
that by the first is meant man in the state of sin and corruption, by the other, man 
regenerated by grace, yet called the son of man because made more excellent by the 
change of his mind and life, from old corruption to newness, and from an old to a 
new man ; whereas he that is still carnal is miserable ; and then ascending from the 
body to the head, Christ, he extols his glory a* being set over all things, even the 


angels and heavens, and the whole world as is elsewhere showed that he is. Eph. i. 
21. And then leaving the highest things he descended to " sheep and oxen ; " where 
by we may understand sanctified men and preachers, for to sheep are the faithful 
often compared, and preachers to oxen. 1 Cor. ix. " Thou shalt not muzzle the 
mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn." " The beasts of the field " set forth the 
voluptuous that live at large, going in the broad way : the fowls of the air, the lifted 
up by pride : " the fishes of the sea," such as through a covetous desire of riches 
pierce into the lower parts of the earth, as the fishes dive to the bottom of the sea. 
And because men pass the seas again and again for riches, he addeth, " that passeUi 
through the way of the sea," and to that of diving to the bottom of the waters may be 
applied (1 Tim. vi. 9), " They that will be rich, fall into many noisome lusts, that 
drown the soul in perdition." And hereby seem to be set forth the three things 
of the world of which it is said, " they that love them, the love of the Father is not in 
them." " The lust of the heart " being sensuality ; " the lust of the eyes," covet- 
ousness ; to which is added, " the pride of life." Above all these Christ was set, 
because without all sin ; neither could any of the devil s three temptations, which 
may be referred hereunto, prevail with him. And all these, as well as " sheep and 
oxen," are in the church, for which it is said, that into the ark came all manner of 
beasts, both clean and unclean, and fowls ; and all manner of fishes, good and bad, 
came into the net, as it is in the parable. All which I have set down, as of which 
good use may be made by the discreet reader. John Mayer. 

Verse 6. " Thou hast put all things under his feet." Hermodius, a nobleman 
born, upbraided the valiant captain Iphicrates for that he was but a shoemaker s 
son. " My blood," saith Iphicrates, " taketh beginning at me ; and thy blood, 
at thee now taketh her farewell ; " intimating that he, not honouring his house with 
the glory of his virtues, as the house had honoured him with the title of nobility, 
was but as a wooden knife put into an empty sheath to fill up the place ; but for 
himself, he, by his valorous achievements was now beginning to be the raiser of his 
family. Thus, in the matter of spirituality, he is the best gentleman that is the 
best Christian. The men of Berea, who received the word with all readiness, were 
more noble than those of Thessalonica. The burgesses of God s city be not of base 
lineage, but truly noble ; they boast not of their generations, but their regeneration, 
which is far better ; for, by their second birth they are the sons of God, and the 
church is their mother, and Christ their elder brother, the Holy Ghost their tutor, 
angels their attendants, and all other creatures their subjects, the whole world their 
inn, and heaven their home. John Spencer s " Things New and Old." 

Verse 6. " Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands," etc. 

For thy help against wandering thoughts in prayer labour to keep thy distance 

to the world, and that sovereignty which God hath given thee over it in its profits 
and pleasures, or whatever else may prove a snare to thee. While the father and 
master know their place, and keep their distance, so long children and servants will 
keep theirs by being dutiful and officious ; but when they forget this, the father 
grows fond of the one, and the master too familiar with the other, then they begin to 
lose their authority, and the others to grow saucy and under no command ; bid 
them go, and it may be they will not stir ; set them a task, and they will bid you 
do it yourself. Truly, thus it fares with the Christian ; all the creatures are his 
servants, and so long as he keeps his heart at a holy distance from them, and maintains 
his lordship over them, not laying them in his bosom, which God hath put " under 
his feet," all is well ; he marches to the duties of God s worship in a goodly order. 
He can be private with God, and these not be bold to crowd in to disturb him. 
William Gurnall. 

Verses 7, 8. He who rules over the material world, is Lord also of the intellec 
tual or spiritual creation represented thereby. The souls of the faithful, lowly and 
harmless are the sheep of his pasture ; those who, like oxen, are strong to labour 
in the church, and who, by expounding the Word of Life, tread out the corn for the 
nourishment of the people, own him for their kind and beneficent Master ; nay, 
tempers fierce and untractable as the beasts of the desert, are yet subject to his 
will ; spirits of the angelic kind, that, like the birds of the air, traverse freely the 
superior region, move at his command ; and those evil ones whose habitation is in 
the deep abyss, even to the great leviathan himself, all are put under the feet ol 
King Messiah. George Home, D.D. 


Verse 8. Every dish of fish and fowl that comes to our table, is an instance 
of this dominion man has over the works of God s hands, and it is a reason of our 
subjection to God our chief Lord, and to his dominion over us- 


Verse 1. " Lord, our Lord." Personal appropriation of the Lord as ours. 
The privilege of holding such a portion. 

" How excellent," etc. The excellence of the name and nature of God in all 
places, and under all circumstances. 

Sermon or lecture upon the glory of God in creation and providence. 

" In all the earth." The universal revelation of God in nature and its excellency. 

" Thy glory above the heavens." The incomprehensible and infinite glory of God. 

" Above the heavens." The glory of God outsoaring the intellect of angels, and 
the splendour of heaven. 

Verse 2. Infant piety, its possibility, potency, " strength," and influence, 
" that thou mightest still/ etc. 

The strength of the gospel not the result of eloquence or wisdom in the speaker. 

Great results from small causes when the Lord ordains to work. 

Great things which can be said and claimed by babes in grace. 

The stilling of the powers of evil by the testimony of feeble believers. 

The stilling of the Great Enemy by the conquests of grace. 

Verse 4. Man s insignificance. God s mindfulness of man. Divine visits. 
The question, " What is man ? " Each of these themes may suffice for a dis 
course, or they may be handled in one sermon. 

Verse 5. Man s relation to the angels. 

The position which Jesus assumed for our sake*. 

Manhood s crown the glory of our nature in the person of the Lord Jesus. 

Verses 5, 6, 7, 8. The universal providential dominion of our Lord Jesus. 

Verse 6. Man s rights and responsibilities towards the lower animals. 

Verse 6. Man s dominion over the lower animals, and how he should exercise it. 

Verse 6 (second clause). The proper place for all worldly things, "under his 

Verse 9. The wanderer in many clime* enjoying the sweetness of his Lord s name 
in every condition. 


TITLE. "To the Chief Musician upon Muth-labben, a Psalm of David." The 
meaning of this title is very doubtful. It may refer to the tune to which the Psalm 
was to be sung, so Wilcocks and others think ; or it may refer to a musical instrument 
now unknown, but common in those days ; or it may have a reference to Ben, who is 
mentioned in 1 Chron. xv. 18, as one of the Levitical singers. If either of these con 
jectures should be correct, the title of Muth-labben has no teaching for us, except it is 
meant to show us how careful David was that in the worship of God all things should be 
done according to due order. From a considerable company of learned witnesses we 
gather that the title will bear a meaning far more instructive, without being fancifully 
forced : it signifies a Psalm concerning the death of the Son. The Chaldee has, " con 
cerning the death of the Champion who went out between the camps," referring to Goliath 
of Gath, or some other Philistine, on account of whose death many suppose this Psalm 
to have been written in after years by David. Believing that out of a thousand guesses 
this is at least as consistent with the sense of the Psalm as any other, we prefer it ; and 
the more especially so because it enables us to refer it mystically to the victory of the 
Son of God over the champion of evil, even the enemy of souls (verse 6). We have here 
before us most evidently a triumphal hymn ; may it strengthen the faith of the militant 
believer, and stimulate the courage of the timid saint, as he sees here THE CONQUEROR, on 
whose vesture and thigh is the name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 

ORDER. Bonar remarks, " The position of the Psalms in their relations to each 
other is often remarkable. It is questioned whether the present arrangement of them 
was the order in which they were given forth to Israel, or whether some later compiler, 
perhaps Ezra, was inspired to attend to this matter, as well as to other points connected 
with the canon. Without attempting to decide this point, it is enough to remark that 
we have proof that the order of the Psalms is as ancient as the completing of the canon, 
and if so, it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit wished this book to come down to us 
in its present order. We make these remarks, in order to invite attention to the fact, 
that as the eight caught up the last line of the seventh, this ninth Psalm opens with an 
apparent reference to the eighth : 

" I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart ; 
I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. 

1 will be glad and rejoice in thee. (Comp. Song i. 4 ; Rev. xix. 7.) 
1 will sing to THY NAME, O thou Most High." Verses I, a. 

As if " The Name," so highly praised in the former Psalm, were still ringing in the 
ear of the sweet singer of Israel. And in verse 10, he returns to it, celebrating their 
confidence who " know " that " name " as if its fragrance still breathed in the atmosphere 

DIVISION. The strain so continually changes, that it is difficult to give an outline 
of it methodically arranged : we give the best we can make. From verses 1 to 6 is 
a song of jubilant thanksgiving ; from 7 to 12, there is a continual declaration of faith 
as to the future. Prayer closes the first great division of the Psalm in verses 13 and 14. 
The second portion of this triumphal ode, although much shorter, is parallel in all its 
parts to the first portion, and is a sort of rehearsal of it. Observe the song for past 
judgments, verses 15, 16 ; the declaration of trust in future justice, 17, 18; and the 
closing prayer, 19, 20. Let us celebrate the conquests of the Redeemer as we read this 
Psalm, and it cannot but be a delightful task if the Holy Ghost be with us. 


f WILL praise thee, LORD, with my whole heart ; I will shew forth all 
thy marvellous works. 

2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee : I will sing praise to thy name, O thou 
most High. 

3 When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy 


4 For thou hast maintained my right and my cause ; thou satest in the 
throne judging right. 

5 Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou 
hast put out their name for ever and ever. 

6 O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end : and thou hast 
destroyed citks ; their memorial is perished with them. 

1. With a holy resolution the songster begins his hymn; / will praise thee, 
Lord. It sometimes needs all our determination to face the foe and bless the 
Lord in the teeth of his enemies; vowing that whoever else may be silent we 
will bless his name ; here, however, the overthrow of the foe is viewed as complete, 
and the song flows with sacred fulness of delight. It is our duty to praise the Lord ; 
let us perform it as a privilege. Observe that David s praise is all given to the 
Lord. Praise is to be offered to God alone ; we may be grateful to the intermediate 
agent, but our thanks must have long wings and mount aloft to heaven. With 
my whole heart. Half heart is no heart. / will show forth. There is true praise 
in the thankful telling forth to others of our heavenly Father s dealings with us ; 
this is one of the themes upon which the godly should speak often to one another, and 
it will not be casting pearls before swine if we make even the ungodly hear of the 
loving-kindness of the Lord to us. All thy marvellous works. Gratitude for one 
mercy refreshes the memory as to thousands of others. One silver link in the chain 
draws up a long series of tender remembrances. Here is eternal work for us, for 
there can be no end to the showing forth of all his deeds of love. If we consider 
our own sinfulness and nothingness, we must feel that every work of preservation, 
forgiveness, conversion, deliverance, sanctification, Ac., which the Lord has wrought 
for us, or in us is a marvellous work. Even in heaven, divine loving-kindness will 
doubtless be as much a theme of surprise as of rapture. 

2. Gladness and joy are the appropriate spirit in which to praise the goodness 
of the Lord. Birds extol the Creator in notes of overflowing joy, the cattle low 
forth his praise with tumult of happiness, and the fish leap up in his worship with 
excess of delight. Moloch may be worshipped with shrieks of pain, and Juggernaut 
may be honoured by dying groans and inhuman yells, but he whose name is Love 
is best pleased with the holy mirth, and sanctified gladness of his people. Daily 
rejoicing is an ornament to the Christian character, and a suitable robe for God s 
choristers to wear. God loveth a cheerful giver, whether it be the gold of his purse 
or the gold of his mouth which he presents upon his altar. / will sing praise to 
thy name, O thou most High. Songs are the fitting expressions of inward thankfulness, 
and it were well if we indulged ourselves and honoured our Lord with more of them. 
Mr. B. P. Power has well said, " The sailors give a cheery cry as they weigh anchor, 
the ploughman whistles in the morning as he drives his team ; the milkmaid sings 
her rustic song as she sets about her early task ; when soldiers are leaving friends 
behind them, they do not march out to the tune of the Dead March in Saul, but 
to the quick notes of some lively air. A praising spirit would do for us all that 
their songs and music do for them ; and if only we could determine to praise the 
Lord, we should surmount many a difficulty which our low spirits never would 
have been equal to, and we should do double the work which can be done if the heart 
be languid in its beating, if we be crushed and trodden down in soul. As the evil 
spirit in Saul yielded in the olden time to the influence of the harp of the son of 
Jesse, so would the spirit of melancholy often take flight from us, if only we would 
take up the song of praise." 

3. God s presence is evermore sufficient to work the defeat of our most furious 
foes, and their ruin is so complete when the Lord takes them in hand, that even 
flight cannot save them, they fall to rise no more when he pursues them. We 
must be careful, like David, to give all the glory to him whose presence gives the 
victory. If we have here the exultings of our conquering Captain, let us make the 
triumphs of the Redeemer the triumphs of the redeemed, and rejoice with him at 
the total discomfiture of all his foes. 

4. One of our nobility has for his motto, " I will maintain it ; " but the Christian 
has a better and more humble one, " Thou hast maintained it." " God and my 
right," are united by my faith : while God lives my right shall never be taken 
from me. If we seek to maintain the cause and honour of our Lord we may suffer 
reproach and misrepresentation, but it is a rich comfort to remember that he who 



sits in the throne knows our hearts, and will not leave us to the ignorant and 
ungenerous judgment of erring man. 

5. God rebukes before he destroys, but when he once comes to blows with the 
wicked he ceases not until he has dashed them in pieces so small that their very 
name is forgotten, and like a noisome snuff their remembrance is put out for ever 
and ever. How often the word " thou " occurs in this and the former verse, to 
show us that the grateful strain mounts up directly to the Lord as doth the smoke 
from the altar when the air is still. My soul send up all the music of all thy powers 
to him who has been and is thy sure deliverance. 

6. Here the Psalmist exults over the fallen foe. He bends as it were, over his 
prostrate form, and insults his once vaunted strength. He plucks the boaster s 
Bong out of his mouth, and sings it for him in derision. After this fashion doth 
our Glorious Redeemer ask of death, " Where is thy sting ? " and of the grave, 
" Where is thy victory ? " The spoiler is spoiled, and he who made captive is 
led into captivity himself. Let the daughters of Jerusalem go forth to meet their 
King, and praise him with timbrel and harp. 

7 But the LORD shall endure for ever : he hath prepared his throne for 

8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment 
to the people in uprightness. 

9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of 

10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee : for thou 
LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. 

11 Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion : declare among the 
people his doings. 

12 When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them : he 
forgetteth not the cry of the humble. 

In the light of the past the future is not doubtful. Since the same Almighty 
God fills the throne of power, we can with unhesitating confidence, exult in our 
gecurity for all time to come. 

7. The enduring existence and unchanging dominion of our Jehovah, are the 
firm foundations of our joy. The enemy and his destructions shall come to a 
perpetual end, but God and his throne shall endure for ever. The eternity of divine 
sovereignty yields unfailing consolation. By the throne being prepared for judgment, 
are we not to understand the swiftness of divine justice. In heaven s court suitors 
are not worn out with long delays. Term-time lasts all the year round in the court 
of King s Bench above. Thousands may come at once to the throne of the Judge 
of all the earth, but neither plaintiff nor defendant shall have to complain that 
he is not prepared to give their cause a fair hearing. 

8. Whatever earthly courts may do, heaven s throne ministers judgment in 
uprightness. Partiality and respect of persons are things unknown in the 
dealings of the Holy One of Israel. How the prospect of appearing before the 
impartial tribunal of the Great King should act as a check to us when tempted 
to sin, and as a comfort when we are slandered or oppressed. 

9. He who gives no quarter to the wicked in the day of judgment, is the defence 
and refuge of his saints in the day of trouble. There are many forms of oppression ; 
both from man and from Satan oppression come to us ; and for all its forms, a 
refuge is provided in the Lord Jehovah. There were cities of refuge under the law, 
God is our refuge-city under the gospel. As the ships when vexed with tempest 
make for harbour, so do the oppressed hasten to the wings of a just and gracious 
God. He is a high tower so impregnable, that the hosts of hell cannot carry it 
bv storm, and from its lofty heights faith looks down with scorn upon her enemies. 

10. Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge 
is best when it exercises itself upon the name of God. This most excellent knowledge 
leads to the most excellent grace of faith. O, to learn more of the attributes and 
character of God. Unbelief, that hooting nightbird, cannot live in the light of 
divine knowledge, it flies before the sun of God s great and gracious name. If we 
read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fulness of assurance in the 


names of God. We have recounted them in the " Hints for Preachers," and would 
direct the reader s attention to them. By knowing his name is also meant an 
experimental acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are everyone of them 
anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril. The Lord may hide 
his face for a season from his people, but he never has utterly, finally, really, or 
angrily, forsaken them that seek him. Let the poor seekers draw comfort from this 
fact, and let the finders rejoice yet more exceedingly, for what must be the Lord s 
faithfulness to those who find if he is so gracious to those who seek. 

" O hope of every contrite haart, 

O joy of all the meek, 
To those who fall how kind thou art, 
How good to those who seek. 

" But what to those who find, ah, this 

Nor tongue nor pen can show 
The love of Jesus what it is, 

None but his loved ones know." 

11. Being full of gratitude himself, our inspired author is eager to excite others 
to join the strain, and praise God in the same manner as he had himself vowed to 
do in the first and second verses. The heavenly spirit of praise is gloriously contagious, 
and he that hath it is never content unless he can excite all who surround him to 
unite in his sweet employ. Singing and prea ching, as means of glorifying God, 
are here joined together, and it is remarkable that, connected with all revivals 
of gospel ministry, there has been a sudden outburst of the spirit of song. Luther s 
Psalms and Hymns were in all men s mouths, and in the modern revival under 
Wesley and Whitfield, the strains of Charles Wesley, Cennick, Berridge, Toplady, 
Hart, Newton, and many others, were the outgrowth of restored piety. The singing 
of the birds of praise fitly accompanies the return of the gracious spring of divine 
visitation through the proclamation of the truth. Sing on brethren, and preach 
on, and these shall both be a token that the Lord still dwelleth in Zion. It will 
be well for us when coming up to Zion, to remember that the Lord dwells among 
his saints, and is to be had in peculiar reverence of all thos that are about him. 

When an inquest is held concerning the blood of the oppressed, the martyred 
saints will have the first remembrance ; he will avenge his own elect. Those saints 
who are living shall also be heard ; they shall be exonerated from blame, and kept 
from destruction, even when the Lord s most terrible work is going on ; the man 
with the inkhorn by his side shall mark them all for safety, before the slaughtermen 
are permitted to smite the Lord s enemies. The humble cry of the poorest saints 
shall neither be drowned by the voice of thundering justice nor by the shrieks of 
the condemned. 

13 Have mercy upon me, O LORD ; consider my trouble which I suffer of 
them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death : 

14 That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of 
Zion : I will rejoice in thy salvation. 

Memories of the past and confidences concerning the future conducted the man 
of God to the mercy seat to plead for the needs of the present. Between 
praising and praying he divided all his time. How could he have spent it 
more profitably ? His first prayer is one suitable for all persons and occasions, 
it breathes a humble spirit, indicates self knowledge, appeals to the proper attributes, 
and to the fitting person. Have mercy upon me, Lord. Just as Luther used 
to call some texts little Bibles, so we may call this sentence a little prayer-book ; 
for it has in it the soul and marrow of prayer. It is multum in parvo, and like 
the angelic sword turns every way. The ladder looks to be short, but it reaches 
from earth to heaven. 

What a noble title is here given to the Most High. Thou that liftest me up from 
the gates of death ! What a glorious lift ! In sickness, in sin, in despair, in 
temptation, we have been brought very low, and the gloomy portal has seemed 
as if it would open to imprison us, but, underneath us were the everlasting arms, 
and, therefore, we have been uplifted even to the gates of heaven. Trapp quaintly 
says, " He commonly reserveth his hand for a dead lift, and rescueth those who 


were even talking of their graves." We must not overlook David s object in desiring 
mercy, it is God s glory : " that I may show forth all thy praise." Saints are not 
so selfish as to look only to self ; they desire mercy s diamond that they may let 
others see it flash and sparkle, and may admire Him who gives such priceless gems 
to his beloved. The contrast between the gates of death and the gates of the New 
Jerusalem is very striking ; let our songs be excited to tfie highest and most 
rapturous pitch by the double consideration of whence we are taken, and to what 
we have been advanced, and let our prayers for mercy be made more energetic 
and agonizing by a sense of the grace which such a salvation implies. When David 
speaks of his showing forth all God s praise, he means that, in his deliverance grace 
in all its heights and depths would be magnified. Just as our hymn puts it : 

" O the length and breadth oi love ! 

Jesus, Saviour, can it be ? 
All thy mercy s height I prove, 
All the depth is seen in me." 

Here ends the first part of this instructive psalm, and in pausing awhile we feel 
bound to confess that our exposition has only flitted over its surface, and has not 
digged into the depths. The verses are singularly full of teaching, and if the Holy 
Spirit shall bless the reader, he may go over this Psalm, as the writer has done 
scores of times, and see on each occasion fresh beauties. 

15 The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made : in the net which 
they hid is their own foot taken. 

16 The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth : the wicked 
is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah. 

In considering this terrible picture of the Lord s overwhelming judgments of his 
enemies, we are called upon to ponder and meditate upon it with deep seriousness 
by the two untranslated words, Higgaion, Selah. Meditate, pause. Consider, 
and tune your instrument. Bethink yourselves and solemnly adjust your hearts 
to the solemnity which is so well becoming the subject. Let us in a humble spirit 
approach these verses, and notice, first, that the character of God requires the 
punishment of sin. Jehovah is known by the judgment which he executeth ; his holiness 
and abhorrence of sin are thus displayed. A ruler who winked at evil would soon 
be known by all his subjects to be evil himself, and he, on the other hand, who is 
severely just in judgment reveals his own nature thereby. So long as our God 
is God, he will not, he cannot spare the guilty ; except through that one glorious 
way in which he is just, and yet the justifler of him that believeth in Jesus. We 
must notice, secondly, that the manner of his judgment is singularly wise, and 
indisputably just. He makes the wicked become their own executioners. " The 
heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made, &c." Like cunning hunters 
they prepared a pitfall for the godly and fell into it themselves : the foot of the 
victim escaped their crafty snares, but the toils surrounded themselves : the cruel 
snare was laboriously manufactured, and it proved its efficacy by snaring its own 
maker. Persecutors and oppressors are often ruined by their own malicious projects. 
" Drunkards kill themselves ; prodigals beggar themselves ; " the contentious 
are involved in ruinous costs ; the vicious are devoured with fierce diseases ; the 
envious eat their own hearts ; and blasphemers curse their own souls. Thus, 
men may read their sin in their punishment. They sowed the seed of sin, and 
the ripe fruit of damnation is the natural result. 

17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget 

1 8 For the needy shall not alway be forgotten : the expectation of the 
poor shall not perish for ever. 

17. The Justice which has punished the wicked, and preserved the righteous, 
remains the same, and therefore in days to come, retribution will surely be meted 
out. How solemn is the seventeenth verse, especially in its warning to forgetters 
of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the 
benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must 
all have their portion with the openly wicked in the hell which is prepared for the 


devil and his angels. There are whole nations of such ; the forgetters of God are 
far more numerous than the profane or profligate, and according to the very forceful 
expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of 
them shall be hurled headlong. Forgetfulness seems a small sin, but it brings 
eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it. 

18. Mercy is as ready to her work as ever justice can be. Needy souls fear 
that they are forgotten; well, if it be so, let them rejoice that they shall not alway 
be so. Satan tells poor tremblers that their hope shall perish, but they have here 
divine assurance that their expectation shall not perish for ever. " The Lord s people 
are a humbled people, afflicted, emptied, sensible of need, driven to a daily attendance 
on God, daily begging of him, and living upon the hope of what is promised ; " 
such persons may have to wait, but they shall find that they do not wait in vain. 

19 Arise, O LORD ; let not man prevail : let the heathen be judged in 
thy sight. 

20 Put them in fear, O LORD, that the nations may know themselves to 
be but men. Selah. 

19. Prayers are the believer s weapons of war. When the battle is too hard 
for us, we call in our great ally, who, as it were, lies in ambush until faith gives 
the signal by crying out, " Arise, O Lord." Although our cause be all but lost, 
it shall be soon won again if the Almighty doth but bestir himself. He will not 
suffer man to prevail over God, but with swift judgments will confound their 
gloryings. In the very sight of God the wicked will be punished, and he who is 
now all tenderness will have no bowels of compassion for them, since thry had 
no tears of repentance while their day of grace endured. 

20. One would think that men would not grow so vain as to deny themselves 
to be but men, but it appears to be a lesson which only a divine schoolmaster can 
teach to some proud spirits. Crowns leave their wearers but men, degrees of eminent 
learning make their owners not more than men, valour and conquest cannot elevate 
beyond the dead level of " but men ; " and all the wealth of Crossus, the wisdom 
of Solon, the power of Alexander, the eloquence of Demosthenes, if added together, 
would leave the possessor but a man. May we ever remember this, lest like those 
in the text, we should be put in fear. 

Before leaving this Psalm, it will be very profitable if the student will peruse 
it again as the triumphal hymn of the Redeemer, as he devoutly brings the gltry 
of his victories and lays it down at his Father s feet. Let us joy in his joy, and 
our joy shall be full. 


Whole Psalm. We are to consider this song of praise, as I conceive, to be the 
language of our great Advocate and Mediator, " in the midst of the church giving 
thanks unto God," and teaching us to anticipate by faith his great and final victory 
over all the adversaries of our peace temporal and spiritual, with especial reference 
to his assertion of his royal dignity on Zion, his holy mountain. The victory over 
the enemy, we find by the fourth verse, is again ascribed to the decision of divine 
justice, and the award of a righteous judge, who has at length resumed his tribunal. 
This renders it certain, that the claim preferred to the throne of the Almighty, 
could proceed from the lips of none but our MELCHIZEDEC. John Fry, B.A., 1842. 

Verse 1. " / will praise thee, Lord, with my whole heart." As a vessel by 
the scent thereof tells what liquor is in it, so should our mouths smell continually 
of that mercy wherewith our hearts have been refreshed : for we are called vessels 
of mercy. William Cowper, 1612. 

Verse 1. " / will praise the Lord with my whole heart, 1 will shew forth all thy 
marvellous works." The words, " With my whole heart," serve at once to show 
the greatness of the deliverances wrought for the psalmist, and to distinguish him 
from the hypocrites the coarser, who praise the Lord for his goodness merely 
with th lips ; and the more refined, who prtise him with juft naif their heart, 


while they secretly ascribe the deliverance more to themselves than to him. "All 
thy wonders," the marvellous token of thy grace. The Psalmist shows by this 
term, that he recognised them in all their greatness. Where this is done, there 
the Lord is also praised with the whole heart. Half-heartedness, and the depreciation 
of divine grace, go hand in hand. The ? is the ? instrum. The heart is the 
instrument of praise, the mouth only its organ. E. W. Hengstenberg. 

Verse 1 (second clause). When we have received any special good thing from 
the Lord, it is well, according as we have opportunities, to tell others of it. When 
the woman who had lost one of her ten pieces of silver, found the missing portion 
of her money, she gathered her neighbours and her friends together, saying, " Rejoice 
with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost." We may do the same ; 
we may tell friends and relations that we have received such-and-such a blessing, 
and that we trace it directly to the hand of God. Why have we not already done 
this ? Is there a lurking unbelief as to whether it really came from God ; or are 
we ashamed to own it before those who are perhaps accustomed to laugh at such 
things ? Who knows so much of the marvellous works of God as his own people ; 
if they be silent, how can we expect the world to see what he has done ? Let us 
not be ashamed to glorify God, by telling what we know and feel he has done ; 
let us watch our opportunity to bring out distinctly the fact of his acting ; let us 
feel delighted at having an opportunity, from our own experience, of telling what 
must turn to his praise ; and them that honour God, God will honour in turn ; 
if we be willing to talk of his deeds, he will give us enough to talk about. P.B. 
Power, in I Wills of the Psalms. 

Verses 1, 2. " / will confess unto thee, Lord, with my whole heart," etc. Behold, 
with what a flood of the most sweet affections he says that he "will confess," "show 
forth," " rejoice" " be glad," and " sing," being filled with ecstasy I He does not 
simply say, " / will confess," but, " with my heart," and " with my whole heart." 
Nor does he propose to speak simply of " works," but of the " marvellous works " of 
God, and of " all " those " works." Thus his spirit (like John in the womb) exults 
and rejoices in God his Saviour, who has done great things for him, and those mar 
vellous things which follow. In which words are opened the subject of this Psalm : 
that is, that he therein sings the marvellous works of God. And these works are 
wonderful, because he converts, by those who are nothing, those who have all things, 
and, by the ALMUTH who live in hidden faith, and are dead to the world, he humbles 
those who flourish in glory, and are looked upon in the world. Thus accomplishing 
such mighty things without force, without arms, without labour, by the cross only 
and blood. But how will his saying, that he will show forth " all " his marvellous 
works, agree with that of Job. ix. 10, " which doeth great things past finding out ; 
yea, and wonders without number " ? For who can show forth all the marvellous 
works of God ? We may say, therefore, that these things are spoken in that excess 
of feeling in which he said (Psalm vi. 6), " I will water my couch with my tears." 
That is, he hath such an ardent desire to speak of the wonderful works of God, that, 
as far as his wishes are concerned, he would set them " all " forth, though he could 
not do it, for love has neither bounds nor end : and as Paul saith (1 Cor. xiii. 7), 
" Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things ; " hence it can do 
all things, and does do all things, for God looketh at the heart and spirit. Martin 

Verse 3. " When mine enemies are turned back," etc. Were turned back, repulsed, 
and put to flight. To render this in the present time, as our translators did, is 
certainly improper ; it destroys the coherence, and introduces obscurity. Ains- 
worth saw this, and rendered in the past, " When mine enemies turned backward." 
" At thy presence." That is, by thine anger. For as God s presence or face denotes 
his favour to such as fear and serve him, so it denotes his anger towards the wicked. 
" The face of Jehovah is against them that do evil." B. Boothroyd, 1824. 

Verse 3. " They shall fall and perish." It refers to those that either faint in a 
march, or are wounded in a battle, or especially that in flight meet with galling 
haps in their way, and so are galled and lamed, rendered unable to go forward, and 
so fall, and become liable to all the chances of pursuits, and as here, are overtaken 
and perish in the fall. Henry Hammond, D.D. 

Verae 5. " Thou /ios/ rebuked the heathen," etc. Augustine applieth all this 
mystically, as is intimated (verse 1) that it should be applied for. " T will speak," 


said he, " of all thy wonderful works ; " and what so wonderful as the turning of 
the spiritual enemy backward, whether the devil, as when he said, " Get thee behind 
me, Satan ; " or the old man, which is turned backward when he is put off, and the 
new man put on ? John Mayer. 

Verte 8. " He shall fudge the world in righteousness." In this judgment tears 
will not prevail, prayers will not be heard, promises will not be admitted, repentance 
will be too late ; and as for riches, honourable title*, sceptres, and diadems, these 
will profit much less ; and the inquisition shall be so curious and diligent, that not 
one light thought nor one idle word (not repented of in the life past), shall be for 
gotten. For truth itself hath said, not in jest, but in earnest, " Of every idle word 
which men have spoken, they shall give an account in the day of judgment." Oh, 
how many which now sin with great delight, yea, even with greediness (as if we served 
a god of wood or of stone, which seeth nothing, or can do nothing), will be then 
astonished, ashamed, and silent I Then shall the days of thy mirth be ended, and 
thou shalt be overwhelmed with everlasting darkness ; and instead of thy pleasures, 
thou shalt have everlasting torments. Thomas Tymme. 

Verse 8. " He shall fudge the world in righteousness." Even Paul, in his great 
address on Mars Hill, a thousand years after, could find no better words in which to 
teach the Athenians the doctrine of the judgment-day than the Septuagint rendering 
of this clause. William S. Plumer. 

Verse 8. The guilty conscience cannot abide this day. The silly sheep, when 
she is taken, will not bleat, but you may carry her and do what you will with her, 
and she will be subject ; but the swine, if she be once taken, she will roar and cry, 
and thinks she is never taken but to be slain. So of all things the guilty conscience 
cannot abide to hear of this day, for they know that when they hear of it, they hear 
of their own condemnation. I think if there were a general collection made through 
the whole world that there might be no judgment-day, then God would be so rich 
that the world would go a-begging and be a waste wilderness. Then the covetous 
judge would bring forth his bribes ; then the crafty lawyer would fetch out his bags ; 
the usurer would give his gain, and a double thereof. But all the money in the 
world will not serve for our sin, but the judge must answer his bribes, he that hath 
money must answer how he came by it, and just condemnation must come upon 
every soul of them ; then shall the sinner be ever dying and never dead, like the 
salamander, that is ever in the fire and never consumed. Henry Smith. 

Verse 9. It is reported of the Egyptians that, living in the fens, and being vexed 
with gnats, they used to sleep in high towers, whereby, those creatures not being 
able to soar so high, they are delivered from the biting of them : so would it be 
with us when bitten with cares and fear, did we but run to God for refuge, and rest 
confident of his help. John Trapp. 

Verse 10. " They that know thy name will put their trust in thee." Faith is an 
intelligent grace ; though there can be knowledge without faith, yet there can be no 
faith without knowledge. One calls it quicksighted faith. Knowledge must carry 
the torch before faith. 2 Tim. i. 12. " For I know whom I have believed." As in 
Paul s conversion a light from heaven " shined round about him " (Acts ix. 3), so 
before faith be wrought, God shines in with a light upon the understanding. A 
blind faith is as bad as a dead faith : that eye may as well be said to be a good eye 
which is without sight, as that faith is good without knowledge. Devout ignorance 
damns ; which condemns the church of Rome, that think it a piece of their religion 
to be kept in ignorance ; these set up an altar to an unknown God. They say 
ignorance is the mother of devotion ; but sure where the sun is set in the understand 
ing, it must needs be night in the affections. So necessary is knowledge to the being 
of faith, that the Scriptures do sometimes baptise faith with the name of knowledge. 
Isa. liii. 11. " By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." Know 
ledge is put there for faith. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 10. " They that know thy name will put their trust in thee : for thou, Lord, 
hast not forsaken them that seek thee." The mother of unbelief is ignorance of God, 
his faithfulness, mercy, and power. They that know thee, will trust in thee. This 
confirmed Paul, Abraham, Sarah, in the faith. " I know whom I have believed, 
and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him 


against that day." 2 Tim. i. 12. " He is faithful that promised," and " able also 
to perform." Heb. x. 23, and xi. 11 ; Rom. iv. 21. The free promises of the Lord 
are all certain, his commandments right and good, the recompense of reward in 
estimably to be valued above thousands of gold and silver ; trust therefore in the 
Lord, O my soul, and follow hard after him. Thou hast his free promise, who never 
failed, who hath promised more than possibly thou couldst ask or think, who hath 
done more for thee than ever he promised, who is good and bountiful to the wicked 
and ungodly ; thou doest his work, who is able and assuredly will bear thee out. 
There is a crown of glory proposed unto thee above all conceit of merit ; stick fast 
unto his word, and suffer nothing to divide thee from it. Rest upon his promises 
though he seem to kill thee ; cleave unto his statutes though the flesh lust, the world 
allure, the devil tempt by flatteries or threatenings to the contrary. John Ball, 

Verse 10. " They that know thy name will put their trust in thee." They can do 
no otherwise who savingly know God s sweet attributes, and noble acts for his 
people. We never trust a man till we know him, and bad men are better known than 
trusted. Not so the Lord ; for where his name is ointment poured forth, the virgins 
love him, fear him, and rejoice in him, and repose upon him. John Trapp. 

Verse 12. " When he maketh inquisition for blood he remembereth them." There 
is a time when God will make inquisition for innocent blood. The Hebrew word 
doresh, from darash, that is here rendered inquisition, signifies not barely to seek, 
to search, but to seek, search, and enquire with all diligence and care imaginable. 
Oh, there is a time a-coming when the Lord will make a very diligent and careful 
search and enquiry after all the innocent blood of his afflicted and persecuted people, 
which persecutors and tyrants have spilt as water upon the ground ; and woe to 
persecutors when God shall make a more strict, critical, and careful enquiry after 
the blood of his people than ever was made in the inquisition of Spain, where all 
things are carried with the greatest diligence, subtlety, secrecy, and severity. 
O persecutors, there is a time a-coming, when God will make a strict enquiry after 
the blood of Hooper, Bradford, Latimer, Taylor, Ridley, etc. There is a time 
a-coming, wherein God will enquire who silenced and suspended such-and-such 
ministers, and who stopped the mouths of such-and-such, and who imprisoned, 
confined, and banished such-and-such, who were once burning and shining lights, 
and who were willing to spend and be spent that sinners might be saved, and that 
Christ might be glorified. There is a time when the Lord will make a very narrow 
enquiry into all the actions and practices of ecclesiastical courts, high commissions, 
committees, assizes, etc, and deal with persecutors as they have dealt with his 
people. Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 12. " When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them." There 
it vox sanguinis, a voice of blood ; and " he that planted the ear, shall he not hear ? " 
It covered the old world with waters. The earth is filled with cruelty ; it was 
vox sanguinis that cried, and the heavens heard the earth, and the windows of heaven 
opened to let fall judgment and vengeance upon it. Edward Marbury, 1649. 

Verse 12. " When he maketh inquisition for blood," etc. Though God may 
seem to wink for a time at the cruelty of violent men, yet will call them at last to a 
strict account for all the innocent blood they have shed, and for their unjust and un 
merciful usuage of meek and humble persons ; whose cry he never forgets (though 
he doth not presently answer it), but takes a fit time to be avenged of their 
oppressors. Symon Patrick, D.D., 1626 1707. 

Verse 12. " He maketh inquisition for blood." He is so stirred at this sin, that 
he will up, search out the authors, contrivers, and commissioners of this scarlet 
sin, he will avenge for blood. William Greenhill. 

Verse 12. " He forgettelh not the cry of the humble." Prayer is a haven to the 
shipwrecked man, an anchor to them that are sinking in the waves, a staff to the 
limbs that totter, a mine of jewels to the poor, a healer of diseases, and a guardian 
of health. Prayer at once secures the continuance of our blessings, and dissipates 
the clouds of our calamities. O blessed prayer ! thou art the unwearied conqueror 
of human woes, the firm foundation of human happiness, the source of ever-enduring 
joy, the mother of philosophy. The man who can pray truly, though languishing 
in extremest indigence, is richer than all beside, whilst the wretch who never bowed 
the knee, though proudly sitting as monarch of all nations, is of all men most 
destitute. C/irysostom 


Verse 14. " That I may show forth all thy praise," etc. To show forth all God s 
praise is to enter largely into the work. An occasional " God, 1 thank thee," is no flt 
return for a perpetual stream of rich benefits. William S. Plumer. 

Verse 15. " The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made," etc. Whilst 
they are digging pits for others, there is a pit a-digging and a grave a-making for 
themselves. They have a measure to make up, and a treasure to fill, which at 
length will be broken open, which, methinks, should take off them which are set upon 
mischief from pleasing themselves in their plots. Alas 1 they are but plotting their 
own ruin, and building a Babel which will fall upon their own heads. If there were 
any commendation in plotting, then that great plotter of plotters, that great engineer, 
Satan, would go beyond us all and take all the credit from us. But let us not envy 
Satan and his in their glory. They had need of something to comfort them. Let 
them please themselves with their trade. The day is coming wherein the daughter 
of Sion shall laugh them to scorn. There will be a time wherein it shall be said, 
" Arise, Sion, and thresh." Micah iv. 13. And usually the delivery of God s 
children is joined with the destruction of his enemies ; Saul s death, and David s 
deliverance ; the Israelites deliverance, and the Egyptians drowning. The church 
and her opposites are like the scales of a balance ; when one goes up, the other goes 
down. Richard Sibbs. 

Verses 15 17. It will much increase the torment of the damned, in that their 
torments will be as large and strong as their understandings and affections, which 
will cause those violent passions to be still working. Were their loss never so great, 
and their sense of it never so passionate, yet if they could but lose the use of their 
memory, those passions would die, and that loss being forgotten, would little trouble 
them. But as they cannot lay by their life and being, though then they would 
account annihilation of singular mercy, so neither can they lay aside any part of 
their being. Understanding, conscience, affections, memory, must all live to torment 
them, which should have helped to their happiness. And as by these they should 
have fed upon the love of God, and drawn forth perpetually the joys of his presence, 
so by these must they now feed upon the wrath of God, and draw forth continually 
the dolours of his absence. Therefore, never think, that when I say the hardness 
of their hearts, and their blindness, dulness, and forgetfulness shall be removed, 
that therefore they are more holy and happy than before : no, but morally more vile, 
and hereby far more miserable. Oh, how many times did God by his messengers 
here call upon them, " Sinners, consider whither you are going. Do but make a 
stand awhile, and think where your way will end, what is the offered glory that you 
so carelessly reject : will not this be bitterness in the end ? " And yet these men 
would never be brought to consider, But in the latter days, saith the Lord, they 
shall perfectly consider it, when they are ensnared in the work of their own hands, 
when God hath arrested them, and judgment is passed upon them, and vengeance 
is poured out upon them to the full, then they cannot choose but consider it, whether 
they will or no. Now they have no leisure to consider, nor any room in their 
memories for the things of another life. Ah I but then they shall have leisure 
enough, they shall be where they shall have nothing else to do but consider it : their 
memories shall have no other employment to hinder them ; it shall even be engraven 
upon the tables of their hearts. God would have the doctrine of their eternal state 
to have been written on the posts of their doors, on their houses, on their hands, 
and on their hearts : he would have had them mind it and mention it, as they rise 
and lie down, and as they walk abroad, that so it might have gone well with them 
at their latter end. And seeing they rejected this counsel of the Lord, therefore 
shall it be written always before them in the place of their thraldom, that which 
way soever they look they may still behold it. Richard Baxter. 

Verse 16. " The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth." Now if 
the Lord be known by the judgment which he executeth ; then, the judgment 
which he executeth must be known ; it must be an open judgment ; and such are 
very many of the judgments of God, they are acted as upon a stage. And I may 
give you an account in three particulars why the Lord will sometimes do justice 
in the place of beholders, or in the open sight of others. First, that there may be 
witnesses enough of what he doth, and so a record of it be kept, at least in the minds 
and memories of faithful men for the generations to come. Secondly, the Lord 
doth it not only that he may have witnesses of his justice, but also that his justice and 


the proceedings of it, may have effect and a fruit upon those who did not feel it, nor 
fall under it. This was the reason why the Lord threatened to punish Jerusalem in 

the sight of the nations. Ezek. v. 6, 7, 8, 14, 15 God would execute judgment 

in Jerusalem, a city placed in the midst of the nations that as the nations had taken 
notice of the extraordinary favours, benefits, deliverances, and salvations which 
God wrought for Jerusalem, so they might also take notice of his judgments and 
sore displeasure against them. Jerusalem was not seated in some nook, corner, or 
by-place of the world, but in the midst of the nations, that both the goodness and 

severity of God towards them might be conspicuous God lets some sinners 

suffer, or punisheth them openly, both because he would have all others take notice 
that he dislikes what they have done, as also because he would not have others do 
the like, lest they be made like them, both in the matter and manner of their sufferings. 
Tis a favour as well as our duty, to be taught by other men s harms, and to be 

instructed by their strokes to prevent our own Thirdly, God strikes some 

wicked men in open view, or in the place of beholders for the comfort of his own 
people, and for their encouragement. Psalm Iviii. 10, 11. " The righteous shall 
rejoice when he seeth the vengeance ; " not that he shall be glad of the vengeance, 
purely as it is a hurt or a suffering to the creature ; but the righteous shall be glad 
when he seeth the vengeance of God as it is a fulfilling of the threatening of God 

against the sin of man, and an evidence of his own holiness It is said (Exod. 

xiv. 30, 31), that God having overwhelmed the Egyptians in the Red Sea, the 
Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore : God did not suffer the carcases 
of the Egyptians to sink to the bottom of the sea, but caused them to lie upon the 
shore, that the Israelites might see them ; and when Israel saw that dreadful stroke 
of the Lord upon the Egyptians, it is said, " The people feared the Lord, and believed 
the Lord, and his servant Moses." Thus they were confirmed in their faith by God s 
open judgments upon the Egyptians. They were smitten in the place of beholders, 
or in the open sight of others. Condensed from Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 16. " The Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth ; " when 
he lays his hand upon sinners, saints tremble, consider his power, majesty, greatness, 
the nature of his judgments, and so judge themselves, and remove out of the way 

whatever may provoke As fire begets a splendour round about where it 

is, so do the judgments of God set out to the world his glory, justice, holiness. 
William Greenhill. 

Verse 16. " Snared in the work of his own hands." The wages that sin bargains 
with the sinner are life, pleasure and profit ; but the wages it pays him with are 
death, torment, and destruction. He that would understand the falsehood and 
deceit of sin, must compare its promises and its payments together. Robert South, 
D.D., 16331716. 

Verse 16. " Higgaion, Selah," that is, as Ainsworth renders it, " Meditation, 
Selah : " showing this ought to be seriously considered of. The word " Higgaion " 
is again had (Psalm xcii. 3) ; being mentioned among other musical instruments, 
whereby we may gather it to be one of them ; for there is psaltery, nable, higgaion, 
and harp. John Mayer. 

Verse 16. " The wicked is snared in the works of his own hands." Not only 
do we read it in the word of God, but all history, all experience, records the same 
righteous justice of God, in snaring the wicked in the work of their own hands. 
Perhaps the most striking instance on record, next to Haman on his own gallows, is 
one connected with the horrors of the French Revolution, in which we are told 
that, " within nine months of the death of the queen Marie Antoinette by the 
guillotine, every one implicated in her untimely end, her accusers, the judges, the 
jury, the prosecutors, the witnesses, all, every one at least whose fate is known, 
perished by the same instrument as their innocent victim." " In the net which 
they had laid for her was their own foot taken into the pit which they digged for 
her did they themselves fall." Barton Bouchier, 1855. 

Verse 17. The ungodly at death must undergo God s fury and indignation. 
" The wicked shall be turned into hell." I have read of a loadstone in Ethiopia which 
hath two corners, with one it draws the iron to it, with the other it puts the iron 
from it ; so God hath two hands, of mercy and justice ; with the one he will draw 
the godly to heaven, with the other he will thrust the sinner to hell ; and oh, how 
dreadful is that place ! It is called a fiery lake (Rev. xx. 15) ; a lake, to denote 
the plenty of torments in hell ; a fiery lake to show the fierceness of them : fire is 


the most torturing element. Strabo in his geography mentions a lake in Galilee 
of such a pestiferous nature that it scaldeth off the skin of whatsoever is cast into 
it ; but, alas I that lake is cool compared with this fiery lake into which the damned 
are thrown. To demonstrate this fire terrible, there are two most pernicious qualities 
in it. 1. It is sulphureous, it is mixed with brimstone (Rev. xxi. 8), which is un 
savoury and suffocating. 2. It is inextinguishable ; though the wicked shall be 
choked in the flames, yet not consumed (Rev. xx. 10) ; " And the devil was cast into 
the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall 
be tormented day and night for ever and ever." Behold the deplorable condition of 
all ungodly ones in the other world, they shall have a life that always dies, and a 
death that always lives : may not this affright men out of their sins, and make them 
become godly ? unless they are resolved to try how hot the hell-fire is. Thomas 

Verse 17. " The wicked shall be turned into hell," etc. By " the wicked " man 
we must understand unregenerate persons, whoever they are that are in a state 

of unregeneracy That person is here spoken of us a " wicked " man that 

" forgets God," who does not think of him frequently, and with affection, with fear 

and delight, and those affections that are suitable to serious thoughts of God 

To forget God and to be a wicked person is all one. And these two things will 
abundantly evince the truth of this assertion : namely, that this forgetfulness of 
God excludes the prime and main essentials of religion, and also includes in it the 
highest and most heinous pieces of wickedness, and therefore must needs denominate 

the subject, a wicked person Forgetfulness of God excludes the principal and 

essential parts of religion. It implies that a man doth neither esteem nor value the 
all-sufficiency and holiness of God, as his happiness and portion, as his strength 
and support ; nor doth he fear him, nor live in subjection to his laws and commands, 
as his rule ; nor doth he aim at the glory of God as his end : therefore every one who 

thus forgets God must certainly be a wicked person To exclude God out 

of our thoughts and not to let him have a place there, not to mind, nor think upon 
God, is the greatest wickedness of the thoughts that can be. And, therefore, though 
you cannot say of such a one, he will be drunk, or he will swear, cozen, or oppress ; 
yet if you can say he will forget God, or that he lives all his days never minding 
nor thinking upon God, you say enough to speak him under wrath, and to turn 
him into hell without remedy. John Howe, 1630 1705. 

Verse 17. " The wicked shall be turned into hell." n^*^, Lisholah head 
long into hell, down into hell. The original is very emphatic. Adam Clarke. 

Verse 17. All wickedness came originally with the wicked one from hell ; thither 
it will be again remitted, and they who hold on its side must accompany it on its 
return to that place of torment, there to be shut up for ever. The true state 
both of " nations," and the individuals of which they are composed, is to be estimated 
from one single circumstance ; namely, whether in their doings they remember, 
or " forget God." Remembrance of him is the well-spring of virtue ; forgetfulness 
of him, the fountain of vice. George Home, D.D. 

Verse 17. 

Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire 
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain. 

John Milton, 16081674. 
Verse 17. 

Will without power, the element of hell, 
Abortive all its acts returning still 

Upon itself ; Oh, anguish terrible ! 

Meet guerdon of self-love, its proper ill ! 

Malice would scowl upon the foe he fears ; 

And he with lip of scorn would seek to kill ; 

But neither sees the other, neither hears 

For darkness each in his own dungeon bars, 

Lust pines for dearth, and grief drinks its own tears 

Each in its solitude apart. Hate wars 

Against himself, and feeds upon his chain, 

Whose iron penetrates the soul it scars, 

A dreadful solitude each mind insane, 

Each its own place, iti pricon all alone, 

A no nnns no vyrnp&toy to sorten pun. 

J. A. Heraud. 


Verse 18. " For the needy shall not alway be forgotten," etc. This is a sweet 
promise for a thousand occasions, and when pleaded before the throne In his name 
who comprehends in himself every promise, and is indeed himself the great promise 
of the Bible, it would be found like all others, yea and amen. Robert Hawker, D.D., 

Verse 18. " The expectation of the poor shall not perish." A heathen could 
say, when a bird, scared by a hawk, flew into his bosom, I will not betray thee 
unto thy enemy, seeing thou comest for sanctuary unto me. How much less will 
God yield up a soul unto its enemy, when it takes sanctuary in his name, saying, 
Lord I am haunted with such a temptation, dogged with such a lust ; either thou 
must pardon it, or I am damned ; mortify it, or I shall be a slave to it ; take me 
into the bosom of thy love for Christ s sake ; castle me in the arms of thy everlasting 
strength ; it is in thy power to save me from, or give me up into the hands of my 
enemy ; I have no confidence in myself or any other : into thy hands I commit 
my cause myself, and rely on thee. This dependence of a soul undoubtedly will 
awaken the almighty power of God for such a one s defence. He hath sworn the 
greatest oath that can come out of his blessed lips, even by himself, that such as 
thus fly for refuge to hopein him, shall have strong consolation. Heb. vi. 17. This 
indeed may give the saint the greater boldness of faith to expect kind entertainment 
when he repairs to God for refuge, because he cannot come before he is looked for ; 
God having set up his name and promises as a strong tower, both calls his people 
into these chambers and expects they should betake themselves thither. William 

Verse 18. As sometimes God is said to hear us in not hearing, us, so we may 
say he should sometimes deny us if he did not delay us. It is (saith Chrysostom) 
like money, which lying long in the bank, comes home at last with a duck in its 
mouth, with use upon use ; when money is out a great time, it makes a great return : 
we can stay thus upon men, and cannot we, shall not we, stay upon the Lord, and 
for the Lord, for a large return. God causeth us by delay to make the more prayers ; 
and the more we pray, the longer we stay, the more comfort we shall have, and 
the more sure we are that we shall have it in the latter end. Distinguish between 

denying and delaying In God our Father are all dimensions of love, and that in 

an infinite degree ; infinitely infinite : what if he defer us ? so do we our children, 
albeit we mean no other but to give them their own asking, yet we love to see them 
wait, that so they may have from us the best things when they are at the best, 
in the best time, and in the best manner : if a mother should forget her only boy, 
yet God hath an infinite memory, he nor can, nor will forget ; the expectation 
of the waiter shall not fail for ever, that is, never. Richard Capel. 

Verse 19. " Arise, O Lord," etc. What does this mean ? Are we to consider 
the Psalmist as praying for the destruction of his enemies, as pronouncing a male 
diction, a curse upon them ? No ; these are not the words of one who is wishing 
that mischief may happen to his enemies ; they are the words of a prophet, of one 
who is foretelling, in Scripture language, the evil that must befall them on account 
of their sins. Augustine. 

Verse 20. " Put them in fear, O Lord," etc. We should otherwise think our 
selves gods. We are so inclined to sin that we need strong restraints, and so swelled 
with a natural pride against God, that we need thorns in the flesh to let out the 
corrupt matter. The constant hanging the rod over us makes us lick the dust, and 
acknowledge ourselves to be altogether at the Lord s mercy. Though God hath 
pardoned us, he will make us wear the halter about our necks to humble us. Stephen 

Verse 20. " That the nations may know themselves to be but men." The original 
word is toij, enosh ; and therefore it is a prayer that they may know themselves 
to be but miserable, frail, and dying men. The word is in the singular number, 
but it is used collectively. John Calvin. 



Verse 1. I. The only object of our praise " thee, O Lord." II. The abundant 
themes of praise " all thy marvellous works." III. The proper nature of praise 
" with my whole heart." B. Davits. 

Verse 1. " / will show forth." Endless employment and enjoyment. 

Verse 1. " Thy marvellous works." Creation, Providence, Redemption, are 
all marvellous, as exhibiting the attributes of God in such a degree as to excite 
the wonder of all God s universe. A very suggestive topic. 

Verse 2. Sacred song : its connection with holy gladness. 

The duty, excellence, and grounds of holy cheerfulness. 

Verse 4. (1) The rights of the righteous are sure to be assailed, (2) but equally 
sure to be defended. 

Verse 6. I. The great enemy. II. The destructions he has caused. III. The 
means of his overthrow. IV. The rest which shall ensue. 

Verse 7 (first clause). The eternity of God the comfort of taints, tht terror 
of sinners. 

Verse 8. The justice of God s moral government, especially in relation to the 
last great day. 

Verse 9. Needy people, needy times, all-sufficient provision. 

Verse 10. I. All-important knowledge " know thy name." II. Blessed 
result " will put their trust in thee." III. Sufficient reason " for thou, Lord, 
hast not forsaken them that seek thee." T. W. Medhurst. 

Knowledge, Faith, Experience, the connection of the three. 

Verse 10. The names of God inspire trust. JEHOVAH Jireh, Tsidkenu, 
Rophi, Shammah, Shalom, Nissi, ELOHIM, SHADDAI, ADONAI, etc. 

Verse 11. I. Zion, what is it ? II. Her glorious inhabitant, what doth he ? 
III. The twofold occupation of her sons " sing praises," " declare among the 
people his doings." IV. Arguments from the first part of the subject to encourage 
us in the double duty. 

Verse 12. I. God on awful business. II. Remembers his people ; to spare, 
honour, bless, and avenge them. III. Fulfils their cries, in their own salvation, 
and overthrow of enemies. A consolatory sermon for times of war or pestilence. 

Verse 13. " Have mercy upon me, Lord." The publican s prayer expounded, 
commended, presented, and fulfilled. 

Verse 13. " Thou liftest me up from the gates of death." Deep distresses. Great 
deliverances. Glorious exaltations. 

Verse 14. " I will rejoice in thy salvation." Especially because it is thine, 
O God, and therefore honours thee. In its freeness, fulness, suitability, certainty, 
everlastingness. Who can rejoice in this ? Reasons why they should always 
do so. 

Verse 15. Lex talionis. Memorable instances. 

Verse 16. Awful knowledge ; a tremendous alternative as compared with 
verse 10. 

Verse 17. A warning to forgetters of God. 

Verse 18. Delays in deliverance. I. Unbelief s estimate of them " for 
gotten," " perish." II. God s promise " not always." III. Faith s duty wait. 

Verse 19. " Let not man prevail." A powerful plea. Cases when employed 
in Scripture. The reason of its power. Times for its use. 

Verse 20. A needful lesson, and how it is taught. 


Since this Psalm has no title of its own, it is supposed by some to be a fragment 
of Psalm ix. We prefer, however, since it is complete in itself, to consider it as a 
separate composition. We have had instances already of Psalms which seem meant 
to form a pair (Ps.i. andii., Ps. iii.and iv.), and this, with theninth, is another specimen 
of the double Psalm. 

The prevailing theme seems to be tlie oppression and persecution of the wicked; 
we will, therefore, for our own guidance, entitle it, THE CRY OF THE OPPRESSED. 

DIVISION. The first verse, in an exclamation of surprise, explains the intent of 
the Psalm, viz., to invoke the interposition of God for the deliverance of his poor and 
persecuted people. From verse 2 to 11, the character of the oppressor is described in 
powerful language. In verse 12, the cry of the first verse bursts forth again, but with 
a clearer utterance. In the next place (verses 13 15), God s eye is clearly beheld as 
regarding all the cruel deeds of the wicked ; and as a consequence of divine omniscience 
the ultimate judgment of the oppressed is joyously anticipated (verses 16 18). To 
the Church of God during times of persecution, and to individual saints who are smarting 
under the hand of the proud sinner, this Psalm furnishes suitable language both for 
prayer and praise. 


\X7HY standest thou afar off, O LORD ? why hides! thou thyself in times 
of trouble ? 

To the tearful eye of the sufferer the Lord seemed to stand still, as if he calmly 
looked on, and did not sympathize with his afflicted one. Nay, more, the Lord 
appeared to be afar off, no longer " a very present help in trouble," but an in 
accessible mountain, into which no man would be able to climb. The presence 
of God is the joy of his people, but any suspicion of his absence is distracting beyond 
measure. Let us, then, ever remember that the Lord is nigh us. The refiner 
is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire, and the Son 
of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when his holy children are cast 
into them. Yet he that knows the frailty of man will little wonder that when we 
are sharply exercised, we find it hard to bear the apparent neglect of the Lord when 
he forbears to work our deliverance. 

" Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble ? " It is not the trouble, but the 
hiding of our Father s face, which cuts us to the quick. When trial and desertion 
come together, we are in as perilous a plight as Paul, when his ship fell into a place 
where two seas met (Acts xxvii. 41). It is but little wonder if we are like the vessel 
which ran aground, and the fore-part stuck fast, and remained unmovable, while 
the hinder part was broken by the violence of the waves. When our sun is eclipsed, 
it is dark indeed. If we need an answer to the question, " Why hidest thou thyself ? " 
it is to be found in the fact that there is a " needs-be," not only for trial, but for 
heaviness of heart under trial (1 Pet. i. 6) ; but how could this be the case, if the 
Lord should shine upon us while he is afflicting us ? Should the parent comfort 
his child while he is correcting him, where would be the use of the chastening ? 
A smiling face and a rod are not fit companions. God bares the back that the 
blow may be felt ; for it is only felt affliction which can become blest affliction. 
If we are carried in the arms of God over every stream, where would be the trial, 
and where the experience, which trouble is meant to teach us ? 

2 The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor : let them be taken in 
the devices that they have imagined. 

3 For the wicked boasteth of his heart s desire, and blesseth the covetous, 
whom the LORD abhorreth. 

4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after 
God : God is not in all his thoughts. 


5 His ways are always grievous ; thy judgments are far above out of 
his sight : as /or all his enemies, he puffeth at them. 

6 He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved : for / shall never be in 

7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud : under his tongue 
is mischief and vanity. 

8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages : in the secret places 
doth he murder the innocent : his eyes are privily set against the poor. 

9 He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den : he lieth in wait to catch 
the poor : he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. 

10 He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his 
strong ones. 

11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hideth his face ; 
he will never see it. 

2. The second verse contains the formal indictment agalnt the wicked : " The 
wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor." The accusation divides itself into two 
distinct charges, pride and tyranny ; the one the root and cause of the other. 
The second sentence is the humble petition of the oppressed : " Let them be taken 
in the devices that they have imagined." The prayer is reasonable, just, and natural. 
Even our enemies themselves being judges, it is but right that men should be done 
by as they wished to do to others. We only weigh you in your own scales, and 
measure your corn with your own bushel. Terrible shall be the day, O persecuting 
Babylon ! when thou shalt be made to drink of the winecup which thou thyself 
hast filled to the brim with the blood of saints. There are none who will dispute 
the justice of God, when he shall hang every Haman on his own gallows, and cast 
all the enemies of his Daniels into their own den of lions. 

3. The indictment being read, and the petition presented, the evidence is now 
heard upon the first count. The evidence is very full and conclusive upon the 
matter of pride, and no jury could hesitate to give a verdict against the prisoner 
at the bar. Let us, however, hear the witnesses one by one. The first testifies 
that he is a boaster. " For the wicked boasteth of his heart s desire." He is a very 
silly boaster, for he glories in a mere desire : a very brazen-faced boaster, for that 
desire is villainy ; and a most abandoned sinner, to boast of that which is his shame. 
Bragging sinners are the worst and most contemptible of men, especially when 
their filthy desires, too filthy to be carried into act become the theme of their 
boastings. When Mr. Hate-Good and Mr. Heady are joined in partnership, they 
drive a brisk trade in the devil s wares. This one proof is enough to condemn 
the prisoner at the bar. Take him away, jailor 1 But stay, another witness desires 
to be sworn and heard. This time, the impudence of the proud rebel is even more 
apparent ; for he " blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth." This is insolence, 
which is pride unmasked. He is haughty enough to differ from the Judge of all 
the earth, and bless the men whom God hath cursed. So did the sinful generation 
in the days of Malachi, who called the proud happy, and set up those that worked 
wickedness (Mai. iii. 15). These base pretenders would dispute with their Maker ; 
they would 

Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod, 
Rejudge his justice, be the god of God." 

How often have we heard the wicked man speaking in terms of honour of the 
covetous, the grinder of the poor, and the sharp dealer ! Our old proverb hath it 

" I wot well how the world wags ; 
He is most loved that hath most bags." 

Pride meets covetousness, and compliments it as wise, thrifty, and prudent. We 
say it with sorrow, there are many professors of religion who esteem a rich man, 
and Hatter him, even though they know that he has fattened himself upon the 
flesh and blood of the poor. The only sinners who are received as respectable are 
covetous men. If a man is a foraicator, or a drunkard, we put him out of the 
church ; but who ever read of church discipline against that idolatrous wretch, 


the covetous man ? Let us tremble, lest we be found to be partakers of this atrocious 
sin of pride, " blessing the covetous, whom Jehovah abhorreth." 

4. The proud boastings and lewd blessing of the wicked have been received 
in evidence against him, and now his own face confirms the accusation, and his 
empty closet cries aloud against him. " The wicked, through the pride of his 
countenance, will not seek after God." Proud hearts breed proud looks and stiff 
knees. It is an admirable arrangement that the heart is often written on the 
countenance, just as the motion of the wheels of a clock find their record on its face. 
A brazen face and a broken heart never go together. We are not quite sure that 
the Athenians were wise when they ordained that men should be tried in the dark 
lest their countenances should weigh with the judges ; for there is much more 
to be learned from the motions of the muscles of the face than from the words of 
the lips. Honesty shines in the face, but villainy peeps out at the eyes. 

See the effect of pride ; it kept the man from seeking God. It is hard to pray 
with a stiff neck and an unbending knee. " God is not in all his thoughts : " he 
thought much, but he had no thoughts for God. Amid heaps of chaff there was 
not a grain of wheat. The only place where God is not is in the thoughts of the 
wicked. This is a damning accusation ; for where the God of heaven is not, the 
Lord of hell is reigning and raging ; and if God be not in our thoughts, our thoughts 
will bring us to perdition. 

5. " His ways are always grievous." To himself they are hard. Men go a rough 
road when they go to hell. God has hedged-up the way of sin : O what folly to 
leap these hedges and fall among the thorns I To others, also, his ways cause 
much sorrow and vexation ; but what cares he ? He sits like the idol god upon 
his monstrous car, utterly regardless of the crowds who are crushed as he rolls 
along. " Thy judgments are far above out of his sight : " he looks high, but not 
high enough. As God is forgotten, so are his judgments. He is not able to com 
prehend the things of God ; a swine may sooner look through a telescope at the 
stars than this man study the Word of God to understand the righteousness of 
the Lord. " As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them." He defies and domineers ; 
and when men resist his injurious behaviour, he sneers at them, and threatens to 
annihilate them with a puff. In most languages there is a word of contempt 
borrowed from the action of puffing with the lips, and in English we should express 
the idea by saying, " He cries Pooh I Pooh I at his enemies." Ah I there is one 
enemy who will not thus be puffed at. Death will puff at the candle of his life and 
blow it out, and the wicked boaster will find it grim work to brag in the tomb. 

6. The testimony of the sixth verse concludes the evidence against the prisoner 
upon the first charge of pride, and certainly it is conclusive in the highest 
degree. The present witness has been prying into the secret chambers of the heart, 
and has come to tell us what he has heard. " He hath said in his heart, I shall not 
be moved : for I shall never be in adversity." impertinence run to seed I The 
man thinks himself immutable, and omnipotent too, for he, he is never to be in 
adversity. He counts himself a privileged man. He sits alone, and shall see no 
sorrow. His nest is in the stars, and he dreams not of a hand that shall pluck him 
thence. But let us remember that this man s house is built upon the sand, upon a 
foundation no more substantial than the rolling waves of the sea. He that is too 
secure is never safe. Boastings are not buttresses, and self-confidence is a sorry 
bulwark. This is the ruin of fools, that when they succeed they become too big, 
and swell with self-conceit, as if their summer would last for ever, and their flowers 
bloom on eternally. Be humble, O man 1 for thou art mortal, and thy lot is mutable. 

The second crime is now to be proved. The fact that the man is proud and 
arrogant may go a long way to prove that he is vindictive and cruel. Haman s 
pride was the father of a cruel design to murder all the Jews. Nebuchadnezzar 
builds an idol ; in pride he commands all men to bow before it ; and then cruelty 
stands ready to heat the furnace seven times hotter for those who will not yield 
to his imperious will. Every proud thought is twin brother to a cruel thought. He 
who exalts himself will despise others, and one step further will make him a tyrant. 

7. Let us now hear the witnesses in court. Let the wretch speak for himself, 
for out of his own mouth he will be condemned. " His mouth is full of cursing 
and deceit and fraud." There is not only a little evil there, but his mouth is full 
of it. A three-headed serpent hath stowed away its coils and venom within the 
den of his black mouth. There is cursing which he spits against both God and 
men, deceit with which he entraps the unwary, and fraud by which, even in his 


common dealings, he robs his neighbours. Beware of such a man : have no sort 
of dealing with him : none but the silliest of geese would go to the fox s sermon, 
and none but the most foolish will put themselves into the society of knaves. But 
we must proceed. Let us look under this man s tongue as well as in his mouth ; 
" under his tongue is mischief and vanity." Deep in his throat are the unborn words 
which shall come forth as mischief and iniquity. 

8. Despite the bragging of this base wretch, it seems that he is as cowardly 
as he is cruel. "He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages : in the secret places 
doth he murder the innocent : his eyes are privily set against the poor." He acts the 
part of the highwayman, who springs upon the unsuspecting traveller in some 
desolate part of the road. There are always bad men lying in wait for the saints. 
This is a land of robbers and thieves ; let us travel well armed, for every bush 
conceals an enemy. Everywhere there are traps laid for us, and foes thirsting 
for our blood. There are enemies at our table as well as across the sea. We are 
never safe, save when the Lord is with us. 

9. The picture becomes blacker, for here is the cunning of the lion, and of the 
huntsman, as well as the stealthiness of the robber. Surely there are some men 
who come up to the very letter of this description. With watching, perversion, 
slander, whispering, and false swearing, they ruin the character of the righteous, 
and murder the innocent ; or, with legal quibbles, mortgages, bonds, writs, and 
the like, they catch the poor, and draw them into a net. Chrysostom was pecu 
liarly severe upon this last phase of cruelty, but assuredly not more so than was 
richly merited. Take care, brethren, for there are other traps besides these. 
Hungry lions are crouching in every den, and fowlers spread their nets in every 

Quarles well pictures our danger in those memorable lines, 

" The close pursuers busy hands do plant 
Snares in thy substance ; snares attend thy want ; 
Snares in thy credit ; snares in thy disgrace ; 
Snares in thy high estate ; snares in thy base ; 
Snares tuck thy bed ; and snares surround thy board ; 
Snares watch thy thoughts ; and snares attack thy word ; 

Snares in thy quiet ; snares in thy commotion. 
Snares in thy diet ; snares in thy devotion 
Snares lurk in thy resolves ; snares iii thy doubt ; 
Snares lie within thy heart, and snares without ; 
Snares are above thy head, and snares beneath ; 
Snares in thy sickness ; snares are in thy death." 

O Lord I keep thy servants, and defend us from all our enemies I 

10. "He crouchcth and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong 
ones." Seeming humility is often armour-bearer to malice. The lion crouches 
that he may leap with the greater force, and bring down his strong limbs upon 
his prey. When a wolf was old and had tasted human blood, the old Saxon cried, 
" Ware, wolf 1 " and we may cry, " Ware, fox 1 " They who crouch to our feet 
are longing to make us fall. Be very careful of fawners ; for friendship and flattery 
are deadly enemies. 

11. As upon the former count, so upon this one ; a witness in forthcoming, 
who has been listening at the keyhole of the heart. Speak up, friend, and let us 
hear your story. " He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hidcth his face ; 
he will never see it." This cruel man comforts himself with the idea that God is 
blind, or, at least, forgetful : a fond and foolish fancy, indeed. Men doubt 
Omniscience when they persecute the saints. If we had a sense of God s presence 
with us, it would be impossible for us to ill-treat his children. In fact, there can 
scarcely be a greater preservation from sin than the constant thought of " thou, 
God, seest me." 

Thus has the trial proceeded. The case has been fully stated ; and now it is 
but little wonder that the oppressed petitioner lifts up the cry for judgment, which 
we find in the following verse : 

12 Arise, O LORD ; O God, lift up thine hand ; forget not the humble 

With what bold language will faith address its God ! and yet what unbelief 
is mingled with our strongest confidence. Fearlessly the Lord is stirred up to 



arise and lift up his hand, yet timidly is he begged not to forget the humble ; as 
if Jehovah could ever be forgetful of his saints. This verse is the incessant cry 
of the Church, and she will never refrain therefrom until her Lord shall come in 
his glory to avenge her of all her adversaries. 

13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God ? he hath said in his heart, 
Thou wilt not require it. 

14 Thou hast seen it ; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite 
it with thy hand : the poor committeth himself unto thee ; thou art the helper 
of the fatherless. 

15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man : seek out his 
wickedness till thou find none. 

In these verses the description of the wicked is condensed, and the evil of his 
character traced to its source, viz., atheistical ideas with regard to the govern 
ment of the world. We may at once perceive that this is intended to be another 
urgent plea with the Lord to show his power, and reveal his justice. When the 
wicked call God s righteousness in question, we may well beg him to teach them 
terrible things in righteousness. In verse 13, the hope of the infidel and his heart- 
wishes are laid bare. He despises the Lord, because he will not believe that sin 
will meet with punishment : " he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it." 
If there were no hell for other men, there ought to be one for those who question 
the justice of it. This vile suggestion receives its answer in verse 14. " Thou 
hast seen it ; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand." God 
is all-eye to see, and all-hand to punish his enemies. From Divine oversight there 
is no hiding, and from Divine justice there is no fleeing. Wanton mischief shall 
meet with woeful misery, and those who harbour spite shall inherit sorrow. Verily 
there is a God which judgeth in the earth. Nor is this the only instance of the 
presence of God in the world ; for while he chastises the oppressor, he befriends 
the oppressed. " The poor committeth himself unto thee." They give themselves 
up entirely into the Lord s hands. Resigning their judgment to his enlightenment, 
and their wills to his supremacy, they rest assured that he will order all things 
for the best. Nor does he deceive their hope. He preserves them in times of need, 
and causes them to rejoice in his goodness. " Thou art the helper of the fatherless." 
God is the parent of all orphans. When the earthly father sleeps beneath the 
sod, a heavenly Father smiles from above. By some means or other, orphan children 
are fed, and well they may when they have such a Father. 

15. In this verse we hear again the burden of the Psalmist s prayer: " Break 
thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man." Let the sinner lose his power to sin ; 
stop the tyrant, arrest the oppressor, weaken the loins of the mighty, and dash 
in pieces the terrible. They deny thy justice : let them feel it to the full. Indeed, 
they shall feel it ; for God shall hunt the sinner for ever : so long as there is a grain 
of sin in him it shall be sought out and punished. It is not a little worthy of note, 
that very few great persecutors have ever died in their beds : the curse has manifestly 
pursued them, and their fearful sufferings have made them own that divine justice 
at which they could at one time launch defiance. God permits tyrants to arise 
as thorn-hedges to protect his church from the intrusion of hypocrites, and that 
he may teach his backsliding children by them, as Gideon did the men of Succoth 
with the briers of the wilderness ; but he soon cuts up these Herods, like the thorns, 
and casts them into the fire. Thales, the Milesian, one of the wise men of Greece, 
being asked what he thought to be the greatest rarity in the world, replied, " To 
see a tyrant live to be an old man." See how the Lord breaks, not only the arm, 
but the neck of proud oppressors ! To the men who had neither justice nor mercy 
for the saints, there shall be rendered justice to the full, but not a grain of mercy. 

16 The LORD is King for ever and ever : the heathen are perished out 
of his land. 

17 LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble : thou wflt prepare 
their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear : 

18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth 
may no more oppress. 


The Psalm ends with a song of thanksgiving to the great and everlasting King, 
because he has granted the desire of his humble and oppressed people, has defended 
the fatherless, and punished the heathen who trampled upon his poor and afflicted 
children. Let us learn that we are sure to speed well, if we carry our complaint 
to the King of kings. Rights will be vindicated, and wrongs redressed, at his 
throne. His government neglects not the interests of the needy, nor does it tolerate 
oppression in the mighty. Great God, we leave ourselves in thine hand ; to thee 
we commit thy church afresh. Arise, O God, and let the man of the earth the 
creature of a day be broken before the majesty of thy power. Come, Lord Jesus, 
and glorify thy people. Amen and Amen. 


Whole Psalm. There is not, in my judgment, a Psalm which describes the 
mind, the manners, the works, the words, the feelings, and the fate of the ungodly 
with so much propriety, fulness, and light, as this Psalm. So that, if in any respect 
there has not been enough said heretofore, or if there shall be anything wanting 
in the Psalms that shall follow, we may here find a perfect image and representation 
of iniquity. This Psalm, therefore, is a type, form, and description of that man, 
who, though he may be in the sight of himself and of men more excellent than 
Peter himself, is detestable in the eyes of God ; and this it was that moved Augustine, 
and those who followed him, to understand the Psalm of ANTICHRIST. But as 
the Psalm is without a title, let us embrace the most general and common under 
standing of it (as I said), and let us look at the picture of ungodliness which it sets 
before us. Not that we would deny the propriety of the acceptation in which 
others receive it, nay, we will, in our general acceptation of the Psalm, include also 
its reference to ANTICHRIST. And, indeed, it will not be at all absurd if we join 
this Psalm with the preceding, in its order thus. That David, in the preceding 
spoke of the ungodly converted, and prayed for those who were to be converted. 
But that here he is speaking of the ungodly that are still left so, and in power pre 
vailing over the weak ALMUTH, concerning whom he has no hope, or is in a great 
uncertainty of mind, whether they ever will be converted or not. Martin Luther, 

Verse 1. " Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble ? " The answer to this 
is not far to seek, for if the Lord did not hide himself it would not be a time of 
trouble at all. As well ask why the sun does not shine at night, when for certain 
there could be no night if he did. It is essential to our thorough chastisement 
that the Father should withdraw his smile : there is a needs be not only for manifold 
temptations, but that we be in heaviness through them. The design of the rod is 
only answered by making us smart. If there be no pain, there will be no profit. 
If there be no hiding of God, there will be no bitterness, and consequently no purging 
efficacy in his chastisements. C. H. S. 

Verse 1 (last clause). " Times of trouble " should be times of confidence ; fixedness 
ol heart on God would prevent fears of heart. Psalm cxii. 7. " He shall not be 
afraid of evil tidings : his heart is fixed." How ? " Trusting in the Lord. His 
heart is established, he shall not be afraid." Otherwise without it we shall be 
as light as a weather-cock, moved with every blast of evil tidings, our hopes will 
swim or sink according to the news we hear. Providence would seem to sleep 
unless faith and prayer awaken it. The disciples had but little faith in their Master s 
account, yet that little faith awakened him in a storm, and he relieved them. 
Unbelief doth only discourage God from showing his power in taking our parts. 
Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 2. " The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor." THE OPPRESSOR S 
PLEA. I seek but what is my own by law ; it was his own free act and deed the 
execution lies for goods and body ; and goods or body I will have, or else my money. 
What if his beggarly children pine, or his proud wife perish ? they perish at their 
own charge, not mine ; and what is that to me ? I must be paid, or he lie by it 
until I have my utmost farthing, or his bones. The law is just and good ; and, 


being ruled by that, how can my fair proceedings be unjust ? What is thirty in 
the hundred to a man of trade ? Are we born to thrum caps or pick straws ? and 
sell our livelihood for a few tears, and a whining face ? I thank God they move 
me not so much as a howling dog at midnight. I ll give no day if heaven itself 

would be security. I must have present money, or his bones Fifteen shillings 

in the pound composition I I ll hang first. Gome, tell me not of a good conscience : 
a good conscience is no parcel of my trade ; it hath made more bankrupts than 
all the loose wives in the universal city. My conscience is no fool : it tells me my 
own is my own, and that a well crammed bag is no deceitful friend, but will stick 
close to me when all my friends forsake me. If to gain a good estate out of nothing, 
and to regain a desperate debt which is as good as nothing, be the fruits and sign 
of a bad conscience, God help the good. Come, tell me not of griping and oppression. 
The world is hard, and he that hopes to thrive must gripe as hard. What I give 
I give, and what I lend I lend. If the way to heaven be to turn beggar upon earth, 
let them take it that like it. I know not what you call oppression, the law is my 
direction ; but of the two, it is more profitable to oppress than to be oppressed. 
If debtors would be honest and discharge, our hands were bound ; but when their 
failing offends my bags, they touch the apple of my eye, and I must right them. 
Francis Quarles. 

Verse 2. That famous persecutor, Domitian, like others of the Roman emperors, 
assumed divine honours, and heated the furnace seven times hotter against Christians 
because they refused to worship his image. In like manner, when the popes of 
Rome became decorated with the blasphemous titles of Masters of the World, and 
Universal Fathers, they let loose their blood-hounds upon the faithful. Pride 
is the egg of persecution. C. H. S. 

Verse 2. " Pride," is a vice which cleaveth so fast unto the hearts of men, 
that if we were to strip ourselves of all faults one by one, we should undoubtedly 
find it the very last and hardest to put off. Richard Hooker, 1554 1600. 

Verse 3. " The wicked boasteth," etc. He braggeth of his evil life, whereof 
he maketh open profession ; or he boasteth that he will accomplish his wicked 
designs ; or glorieth that he hath already accomplished them. Or it may be under 
stood that he commendeth others who are according to the desires of his own soul ; 
that is, he respecteth or honoureth none but such as are like him, and them only 
he esteemeth. Psalm xxxvi. 4, and xlix. 18 ; Rom. i. 32. John Diodati, 1648. 

Verse 3. " The wicked . . . blesseth the covetous." Like will to like, as the common 
proverb is. Such as altogether neglect the Lord s commandments not only commit 
divers gross sins, but commend those who in sinning are like themselves. For 
in their affections they allow them, in their speeches they flatter and extol them, 
and in their deeds they join with them and maintain them. Peter Muflet, 1594. 

Verse 3. " The covetous." Covetousness is the desire of possessing that which 
we have not, and attaining unto great riches and worldly possessions. And whether 
this be not the character of trade and merchandise and traffic of every kind, the 
great source of those evils of over-trading which are everywhere complained of, 
I refer to the judgment of the men around me, who are engaged in the commerce 
and business of life. Compared with the regular and quiet diligence of our fathers, 
and their contentment with small but sure returns, the wild and widespread 
speculation for great gains, the rash and hasty adventures which are daily made, 
and the desperate gamester-like risks which are run, do reveal fully surely that a 
spirit of covetousness hath been poured out upon men within the last thirty or 
forty years. And the providence of God corresponding thereto, by wonderful 
and unexpected revolutions, by numerous inventions for manufacturing the pro 
ductions of the earth, in order to lead men into temptation, hath impressed upon 
the whole face of human affairs, a stamp of earnest worldliness not known to our 
fathers : insomuch that our youth do enter life no longer with the ambition of 
providing things honest in the sight of men, keeping their credit, bringing up their 
family, and realising a competency, if the Lord prosper them, but with the ambition 
of making a fortune, retiring to their ease, and enjoying the luxuries of the present 
life. Against which crying sin of covetousness, dearly beloved brethren, I do most 
earnestly call upon you to wage a good warfare. This place is its seat, its stronghold, 
even this metropolitan city of Christian Britain ; and ye who are called by the 
grace of God out of the great thoroughfare of Mammon, are so elected for the express 
purpose of testifying against this and all other the backslidings of the church planted 


here ; and especially against this, as being in my opinion, one of the most evident 
and the most common of them all. For who hath not been snared in the snare of 
covetousness ? Edward Irving, 1828. 

Verse 3. " The covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth." Christ knew what he 
spake when he said, " No man can serve two masters." Matt. vi. 24. Meaning 
God and the world, because each would have all. As the angel and the devil 
strove for the body of Moses (Jude 9), not who should have a part, but who should 
have the whole, so they strive still for our souls, who shall have all. Therefore, 
the apostle suith, " The love of this world is enmity to God (James iv. 4), signifying 
such emulation between these two, that God cannot abide the world should have a 

Kart, and the world cannot abide that God should have a part. Therefore, the 
>ve of the world must needs be enmity to God, and therefore the lovers of the 
world must needs be enemies to God, and so no covetous man is God s servant, 
but God s enemy. For this cause covetousness is called idolatry (Eph. v. 5), which 
i* the most contrary sin to God, because as treason sets up another king in the king s 
place, so idolatry sets up another god in God s place. Henry Smith. 

Verse 4. " The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after 
God." He is judged a proud man (without a jury sitting on him), who when 
condemned will not submit, will not stoop so low as to accept of a pardon. I must 
indeed correct myself, men are willing to be justified, but they would have their 
duties to purchase their peace and the favour of God. Thousands will die and be 
damned rather than they will have a pardon upon the sole account of Christ s merits 
and obedience. Oh, the cursed pride of the heart I When will men cease to be 
wiser than God ? To limit God ? When will men be contented with God s way 
of saving them by the blood of the everlasting covenant ? How dare men thus 
to prescribe to the infinitely wise God ? Is it not enough for thee that thy destruction 
Is of thyself ? But must thy salvation be of thyself too ? Is it not enough that 
thou hast wounded thyself, but wilt thou die for ever, rather than be beholden to a 
plaister of free grace ? Wilt be damned unless thou mayest be thine own Saviour ? 
God is willing (" God so loved the world that he gave his only Son "), art thou so 
proud as that thou wilt not be beholden to God ? Thou wilt deserve, or have 
nothing. What shall I say ? Poor thou art, and yet proud ; thou hast nothing 
but wretchedness and misery, and yet thou art talking of a purchase. This is a 
provocation. " God resisteth the proud," especially the spiritually proud. He 
that is proud of his clothes and parentage, is not so contemptible in God s eyes as he 
that is proud of his abilities, and so scorns to submit to God s methods for his 
salvation by Christ, and by his righteousness alone. Lewis Stuckley. 

Verse 4. " The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after 
God." The pride of the wicked is the principal reason why they will not seek after 
the knowledge of God. This knowledge it prevents them from seeking in various 
ways. In the first place, it renders God a disagreeable object of contemplation 
to the wicked, and a knowledge of him as undesirable. Pride consists in an unduly 
exalted opinion of one s self. It is, therefore, impatient of a rival, hates a superior, 
and cannot endure a master. In proportion as it prevails in the heart, it makes 
us wish to see nothing above us, to acknowledge no law but our own wills, to follow 
no rule but our own inclinations. Thus it led Satan to rebel against his Creator, 
and our first parents to desire to be as gods. Since such are the effects of pride, 
it is evident that nothing can be more painful to a proud heart than the thoughts of 
such a being as God ; one who is infinitely powerful, just and holy ; who can neither 
be resisted, deceived, nor deluded ; who disposes, according to his own sovereign 
pleasure, of all creatures and events ; and who, in an especial manner, hates pride, 
and is determined to abase and punish it. Such a being pride can contemplate 
only with feelings of dread, aversion, and abhorrence. It must look upon him as 
its natural enemy, the great enemy, whom it has to fear. But the knowledge of 
God directly tends to bring this infinite, irrestible, irreconcilable enemy full to 
the view of the proud man. It teaches him that he has a superior, a master, from 
whose authority he cannot escape, whose power he cannot resist, and whose will 
he must obey, or be crushed before him, and be rendered miserable for ever. It 
shows him what he hates to see, that, in despite of his opposition, God s counsel 
shall stand, that he will do all his pleasure, and that in all things wherein men deal 
proudly, God is above them. These truths torture the proud unhumbled hearts 
of the wicked, and hence they hate that knowledge of God T vhich teaches these 


truths, and will not seek it. On the contrary, they wish to remain ignorant of 
such a being, and to banish all thoughts of him from their minds. With this view, 
they neglect, pervert, or explain away those passages of revelation which describe 
God s true character, and endeavour to believe that he is altogether such a one 
as themselves. 

How foolish, how absurd, how ruinous, how blindly destructive of its own object, 
does pride appear ! By attempting to soar, it only plunges itself in the mire ; 
and while endeavouring to erect for itself a throne, it undermines the ground on 
which it stands, and digs its own grave. It plunged Satan from heaven into hell ; 
it banished our first parents from paradise ; and it will, in a similar manner, ruin 
all who indulge in it. It keeps us in ignorance of God, shuts us out from his favour, 
prevents us from resembling him, deprives us in this world of all the honour and 
happiness which communion with him would confer ; and in the next, unless 
previously hated, repented of, and renounced, will bar for ever against us the door 
of heaven, and close upon us the gates of hell. O then, my friends, beware, above 
all things, beware of pride ! Beware, lest you indulge it imperceptibly, for it in 
perhaps, of all sins, the most secret, subtle, and insinuating. Edward Payson, D.D., 

Verse 4. David speaks in Psalm x. of great and potent oppressors and politicians, 
who see none on earth greater than themselves, none higher than they, and think 
therefore that they may impune prey upon the smaller, as beasts use to do ; and 
in the fourth verse this is made the root and ground of all, that God is not in all his 
thoughts. " The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after 
God : God is not in all his thoughts." The words are diversely read, and all make 
for this sense. Some read it, " No God in all his crafty presumptuous purposes ; " 
others, " All his thoughts are, there is no God." The meaning whereof is not only 
that among the swarm and crowd of thoughts that fill his mind, the thought of 
God is seldom to be found, and comes not in among the rest, which yet is enough 
for the purpose in hand ; but further, that in all his projects and plots, and con 
sultations of his heart (the first reading of the words intends), whereby he contrives 
and lays the plot, form, and draught of all his actions, he never takes God or his will 
into consideration or consultation, to square and frame all accordingly, but proceeds 
and goes on in all, and carries on all as if there were no God to be consulted with. 
He takes not him along with him, no more than if he were no God ; the thoughts of 
him and his will sway him not. As you use to say, when a combination of men 
leave out some one they should advise with, that such a one is not of their counsel, 
is not in the plot ; so nor is God in their purposes and advisings, they do all without 
him. But this is not all the meaning, but farther, all their thought is, that there 
is no God. This is there made the bottom, the foundation, the groundwork and 
reason of all their wicked plots and injurious projects, and deceitful carriages and 
proceedings, that seeing there is no God or power above them to take notice of it, to 
regard or requite them, therefore they may be bold to go on. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 4. " Of his countenance." Which pride he carrieth engraven in his very 
countenance and forehead, and makes it known in all his carriages and gestures. 
" Will not seek," namely, he contemneth all divine and human laws, he feareth not, 
respecteth not God s judgments ; he careth for nothing, so he may fulfil his desires ; 
enquires after, nor examines nothing ; all things are indifferent to him. John 

Verse 4. " All his thoughts are, there is no God ; " thus some read the passage. 
Seneca says, there are no atheists, though there would be some ; if any say there is 
no God, they lie ; though they say it in the day time, yet in the night when they are 
alone they deny it ; howsoever some desperately harden themselves, yet if God doth 
but show himself terrible to them, they confess him. Many of the heathens and 
others, have denied that there is a God, yet when they were in distress, they did fall 
down and confess him, as Diagoras, that grand atheist, when he was troubled with 
the strangullion, acknowledged a deity which he had denied. These kind of atheists 
I leave to the tender mercies of God, of which I doubt it whether there be any for 
them. Richard Stock. 

Verse 4. " God is not in all his thoughts." It is the black work of an ungodly 
man or an atheist, that God is not in all his thoughts. What comfort can be had 
in the being of God without thinking of him with reverence and delight ? A God 
forgotten is as good as no God to us. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 4. Trifles possess us, but " God is not in all our thoughts," seldom the 


sole object of them. We have durable thoughts of transitory things, and flitting 
thoughts of a durable and eternal good. The covenant of grace engageth the whole 
heart to God, and bars anything else from engrossing it ; but what strangers are 
God and the souls of most men ! Though we have the knowledge of him by creation, 
yet he is for the most part an unknown God in the relations wherein he stands to 
us, because a God undelighted in. Hence it is, as one observes, that because we 
observe not the ways of God s wisdom, conceive not of him in his vast perfections, 
nor are stricken with an admiration of his goodness, that we have fewer good sacred 
poems than of any other kind. The wits of men hang the wing when they come to 
exercise their reasons and fancies about God. Parts and strength are given us, as 
well as corn and wine to the Israelites, for the service of God, but those are consecrated 
to some cursed Baal, Hosea ii. 8. Like Venus in the poet, we forsake heaven to 
follow some Adonis. Stephen Charnock. 

Verses 4, 5. The world hath a spiritual fascination and witchcraft, by which, 
where it hath once prevailed, men are enchanted to an utter forgetfulness of them 
selves and God, and being drunk with pleasures, they are easily engaged to a madness 
and height of folly. Some, like foolish children, are made to keep a great 
stir in the world for very trifles, for a vain show ; they think themselves great, 
honourable, excellent, and for this make a great bustle, when the world hath not 
added one cubit to their stature of real worth. Others are by this Circe transformed 
into savage creatures, and act the part of lions and tigers. Others, like swine, 
wallow in the lusts of uncleanness. Others are unmanned, putting off all natural 
affections, care not who they ride over, so they may rule over or be made great. 
Others are taken with ridiculous frenzies, so that a man that stands in the cool shade 
of a sedate composure would judge them out of their wits. It would make a man 
admire to read of the frisks of Caius Caligula, Xerxes, Alexander, and many others, 
who because they were above many men, thought themselves above human nature. 
They forgot they were born and must die, and did such things as would have made 
them, but that their greatness overawed it, a laughing-stock and common scorn 
to children. Neither must we think that these were but some few or rare instances 
of worldly intoxication, when the Scripture notes it as a general distemper of all 
that bow down to worship this idol. They live " without God in the world," saith 
the apostle, that is, they so carry it as if there were no God to take notice of them to 
check them for their madness. " God is not in all his thoughts." Verse 4. " The 
judgments of God are far above out of his sight ; " he puffs at his enemies (ver. 5), and 
saith in his heart, he " shall never be moved." Verse 6. The whole Psalm describes 
the worldling as a man that hath lost all his understanding, and is acting the part 
of a frantic bedlam. What then can be a more fit engine for the devil to work with 
than the pleasures of the world ? Richard Gilpin. 

Verse 5. " Grievous," or troublesome ; that is, all his endeavours and actions 
aim at nothing but at hurting others. " Are far above," for he is altogther carnal, 
he hath not any disposition nor correspondence with the justice of thy law, which 
is altogether spiritual ; and therefore cannot lively represent unto himself thy 
judgments, and the issue of the wicked according to the said law. Rom. vii. 14 ; 
1 Cor. ii. 14. " He puffeth ; " he doth most arrogantly despise them, and is confident 
he can overthrow them with a puff. John Diodati. 

Verse 5. " Thy judgments are far above out of his sight." Because God does 
not immediately visit every sin with punishment, ungodly men do not see that in 
due time he judges all the earth. Human tribunals must of necessity, by promptness 
and publicity, commend themselves to the common judgment, but the Lord s modes 
of dealing with sin are sublimer and apparently more tardy, hence the bat s eyes of 
godless men cannot see them, and the grovelling wits of men cannot comprehend 
them. If God sat in the gate of every village and held his court there, even fools 
might discern his righteousness, but they are not capable of perceiving that for a 
matter to be settled in the highest court, even in heaven itself, is a far more solemn 
matter. Let believers take heed lest they fall in a degree into the same error, and 
begin to criticise the actions of The Great Supreme, when they are too elevated for 
human reason to comprehend them. C. H. S. 

Verse 5. " The judgments of God are far above out of his sight." Out of his sight, 
as an eagle at her highest towering so lessons herself to view, that he sees not the 
talons, nor fears the grip. Thus man presumes till he hath sinned, and then despairs 
as fast afterwards. At first, " Tush, doth God see it ? " At last, * \las I will God 


forgive it ? " But if a man will not know his sins, his sins will know him ; the 
eyes which presumption shuts, commonly despair opens. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 5. "As for all his enemies, he pufjeth at them." David describeth a proud 
man, puffing at his enemies : he is puffed up and swelled with high conceits of himself, 
as if he had some great matter in him, and he puffs at others as if he could do some 
great matter against them, forgetting that himself is but, as to his being in this 
world, a puff of wind which passeth away. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 5. " As for all his enemies he pufjelh at them ; " literally, " He whistles at 
them." He is given over to the dominion of gloomy indifference, and he cares as 
little for others as for himself. Whosoever may be imagined by him to be an enemy 
he cares not. Contempt and ridicule are his only weapons ; and he has forgotten 
how to use others of a more sacred character. His mental habits are marked by 
scorn ; and he treats with contempt the judgments, opinions, and practices of the 
wisest of men. John Morison. 

Verse 6. " He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved : for I shall never be 
in adversity." Carnal security opens the door for all impiety to enter into the soul. 
Pompey, when he had in vain assaulted a city, and could not take it by force, devised 
this stratagem in way of agreement ; he told them he would leave the siege and make 
peace with them, upon condition that they would let in a few weak, sick, and 
wounded soldiers among them to be cured. They let in the soldiers, and when the 
city was secure, the soldiers let in Pompey s army. A carnal settled security will 
let in a whole army of lusts into the soul. Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 6. " He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved : for I shall never be 
in adversity." To consider religion always on the comfortable side ; to congratulate 
one s self for having obtained the end before we have made use of the means ; to 
stretch the hands to receive the crown of righteousness before they have been 
employed to fight the battle ; to be content with a false peace, and to use no efforts 
to obtain the graces to which true consolation is annexed : this is a dreadful calm, 
like that which some voyagers describe, and which is a very singular forerunner of a 
very terrible event. All on a sudden, in the wide ocean, the sea becomes calm, the 
surface of the water clear as a crystal, smooth as glass the air serene ; the un 
skilled passenger becomes tranquil and happy, but the old mariner trembles. In 
an instant the waves froth, the winds murmur, the heavens kindle, a thousand gulfs 
open, a frightful light inflames the air, and every wave threatens sudden death. 
This is an image of many men s assurance of salvation. James Saurin, 1677 1730. 

Verse 7. " Under his tongue is mischief and vanity." The striking allusion of 
this expression is to certain venomous reptiles, which are said to carry bags of poison 
under their teeth, and with great subtlety to inflict the most deadly injuries upon 
those who come within their reach. How affectingly does this represent the sad 
havoc which minds tainted with infidelity inflict on the community ! By their 
perversions of truth, and by their immoral sentiments and practices, they are as 
injurious to the mind as the deadliest poison can be to the body. John Morison. 

Verse 7. Cursing men are cursed men. John Trapp. 

Verses 1 9. In Anne Askew s account of her examination by Bishop Bonner, 
we have an instance of the cruel craft of persecutors : " On the morrow after, my 
lord of London sent for me at one of the clock, his hour being appointed at three. 
And as I came before him, he said he was very sorry of my trouble, and desired to 
know my opinion in such matters as were laid against me. He required me also 
boldly in any wise to utter the secrets of my heart ; bidding me not to fear in any 
point, for whatsoever I did say within his house no man should hurt me for it. 
I answered, For so much as your lordship hath appointed three of the clock, and my 
friends shall not come till that hour, I desire you to pardon me of giving answer 
till they come Upon this Bale remarks : " In this preventing of the hour may 
the diligent perceive the greediness of this Babylon bishop, or bloodthirsty wolf, con 
cerning his prey. Swift are their feet, saith David, in the effusion of innocent 
blood, which have fraud in their tongues, venom in their lips, and most cruel ven 
geance in their mouths. David much marvelleth in the spirit that, taking upon 
them the spiritual governance of the people, they can fall into such frenzy or for- 
getfulness of themselves, as to believe it lawful thus to oppress the faithful, and to 
devour them with as little compassion as he that greedily devoureth a piece of bread. 
If such have read anything of God, they have little minded their true duty therein. 


More swift, saith Jeremy, are our cruel persecutors than the eagles of the air. 
They follow upon us over the mountains, and lay privy wait for us in the wilderness. 
He that will know the crafty hawking of bishops to bring in their prey, let him learn 
it here. Judas, I think, had never the tenth part of their cunning workmanship. " 
John Bale, D.D., Bishop of Ossory, 1495 1563, in " Examination of Anne Askew." 
Parker Society s Publications. 

Verse 8. " He sittelh in the lurking places of the villages," etc. The Arab robber 
lurks like a wolf among these sand-heaps, and often springs out suddenly upon 
the solitary traveller, robs him in a trice, and then plunges again into the wilderness 
of sand-hills and reedy downs, where pursuit is fruitless. Our friends are careful 
not to allow us to straggle about, or lag behind, and yet it seems absurd to fear a 
surprise here Kaifa before, Acre in the rear, and travellers in sight on both sides. 
Robberies, however, do often occur, just where we now are. Strange country I 
and it has always been so. There are a hundred allusions to just such things in the 
history, the Psalms, and the prophets of Israel. A whole class of imagery is based 
upon them. Thus, in Psalm x. 8 10, "He sits in the lurking places of the villages : 
in the secret places doth he murder the innocent : he lieth in wait secretly as a 
lion in his den : he lieth in wait to catch the poor : he doth catch the poor, when 
he draweth him into his net ; he croucheth and humbleth himself, that the poor 
may fall by his strong ones." And a thousand rascals, the living originals of this 
picture, are this day crouching and lying in wait all over the country to catch poor 
helpless travellers. You observe that all these people we meet or pass are armed ; 
nor would they venture to go from Acre to Kaifa without their musket, although 
the cannon of the castles seem to command every foot of the way. Strange, most 
strange land 1 but it tallies wonderfully with its ancient story. W. M. Thomson, 
D.D., in " The Land and the Book," 1859. 

Verse 8. My companions asked me if I knew the danger I had escaped. " No," 
I replied ; " What danger ? " They then told me that, just after they started, 
they saw a wild Arab skulking after me, crouching to the ground, with a musket in 
his hand ; and that, as soon as he had reached within what appeared to them musket- 
shot of me, he raised his gun ; but, looking wildly around him, as a man will do 
who is about to perpetrate some desperate act, he caught sight of them and dis 
appeared. Jeremiah knew something of the ways of these Arabs when he wrote, 
(chap. iii. 2) " In the ways hast thou sat for them, as the Arabian in the wilderness ; " 
and the simile is used in Psalm x. 9, 10, for the Arabs wait and watch for their prey 
with the greatest eagerness and perseverance. John Gadsby, in " My Wanderings," 

Verse 8. " He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages : in the secret places 
doth he murder the innocent : his eyes are privily set against the poor." All this 
strength of metaphor and imagery is intended to mark the assiduity, the cunning, 
the low artifice, to which the enemies of truth and righteousness will often resort in 
order to accomplish their corrupt and vicious designs. The extirpation of true religion 
is their great object ; and there is nothing to which they will not stoop in order to 
effect that object. The great powers which have oppressed the church of Christ, in 
different ages, have answered to this description. Both heathen and papistical 
authorities have thus condescended to infamy. They have sat, as it were, in ambush 
for the poor of Christ s flock ; they have adopted every stratagem that infernal 
skill could invent ; they have associated themselves with princes in their palaces, 
and with beggars on their dunghill ; they have resorted to the villages, and they 
have mingled in the gay and populous city ; and all for the vain purpose of attempt 
ing to blot out a " name which shall endure for ever, and which shall be continued 
as long as the sun." John Morison. 

Verse 9. " He doth catch the poor." The poor man is the beast they hunt, 
who must rise early, rest late, eat the bread of sorrow, sit with many a hungry meal, 
perhaps his children crying for food, while all the fruit of his pains is served into 
Nimrod s table. Complain of this while you will, yet, as the orator said of Verres, 
pecuniosus nescit damnari. Indeed, a money-man may not be damnified, but he 
may be damned. For this is a crying sin, and the wakened ears of the Lord will hear 
it, neither shall his provoked hands forbear it. Si tacuerint pauperes loquentur 
lapides. If the poor should hold their peace, the very stones would speak. The 
fines, rackings, enclosures, oppressions, vexations, will cry to God for vengeance. 


" The stone will cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer 
it. Hab. ii. 11. You see the beasts they hunt. Not foxes, nor wolves, nor boars, 
bulls, nor tigers. It is a certain observation, no beast hunts its own kind to devour 
it. Now, if these should prosecute wolves, foxes, &c., they should then hunt their 
own kind ; for they are these themselves, or rather worse than these, because here 
homo homini lupus. But though they are men they hunt, and by nature of the same 
kind, they are not so by quality, for they are lambs they persecute. In them there 
is blood, and flesh, and fleece to be had ; and therefore on these do they gorge them 
selves. In them there is weak armour of defence against their cruelties ; therefore 
over these they may domineer. I will speak it boldly : there is not a mighty Nimrod 
in this land that dares hunt his equal ; but over his inferior lamb he insults like a 
young Nero. Let him be graced by high ones, and he must not be saluted under 
twelve score off. In the country he proves a termagant ; his very scowl is a prodigy, 
and breeds an earthquake. He would be a Caesar, and tax all. It is well if he 
prove not a cannibal ! Only Macro salutes Sejanus so long as he is in Tiberius s 
favour ; cast him from that pinnacle, and the dog is ready to devour him. Thomas 

Verse 9. " He drawcth him into his net." " They hunt with a net." Micah 
vii. 2. They have their politic gins to catch men ; gaudy wares and dark shops (and 
would you have them love the light that live by darkness, as many shopkeepers ?) 
draw and tole customers in, where the crafty leeches can soon feel their pulses ; if 
they must buy, they shall pay for their necessity. And though they plead, We com 
pel none to buy our ware, caveat emptor ; yet with fine voluble phrases, damnable 
protestations, they will cast a mist of error before an eye of simple truth, and with 
cunning devices hunt them in. So some among us have feathered their nests, not 
by open violence, but politic circumvention. They have sought the golden fleece, 
not by Jason s merit, but by Medea s subtlety, by Medea s sorcery. If I should 
intend to discover these hunters plots, and to deal punctually with them, I should 
afford you more matter than you would afford me time. But I limit myself, and 
answer all their plans with Augustine. Their tricks may hold in jure fori, but not 
in jure poli in the common-pleas of earth, not before the king s bench in heaven. 
Thomas Adams. 

Verse 9. Oppression turns princes into roaring lions, and judges into evening 
wolves. It is an unnatural sin, against the light of nature. No creatures do oppress 
them of their own kind. Look upon the birds of prey, as upon eagles, vultures, 
hawks, and you shall never find them preying upon their own kind. Look upon 
the beasts of the forest, as upon the lion, the tiger, the wolf, the bear, and you shall 
ever find them favourable to their own kind ; and yet men unnaturally prey upon 
one another, like the fish in the sea, the great swallowing up the small. Thomas 

Verse 10. " He croucheth, and humbleth himself," etc. There is nothing too 
mean or servile for them, in the attempt to achieve their sinister ends. You shall 
see his holiness the Pope washing the pilgrims feet, if such a stratagem be necessary 
to act on the minds of the deluded multitude ; or you shall see him sitting on a throne 
of purple, if he wishes to awe and control the kings of the earth. John Morison. 

Verse 10. If you take a wolf in a lambskin, hang him up ; for he is the worst of 
the generation. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 11. " He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten." Is it not a senseless 
thing to be careless of sins committed long ago ? The old sins forgotten by men, 
stick fast in an infinite understanding. Time cannot raze out that which hath been 
known from eternity. Why should they be forgotten many years after they were 
acted, since they were foreknown in an eternity before they were committed, or 
the criminal capable to practise them ? Amalek must pay their arrears of their 
ancient unkindness to Israel in the time of Saul, though the generation that com 
mitted them were rotten in their graves. 1 Sam. xv. 2. Old sins are written in a 
book, which lies always before God ; and not only our own sins, but the sins of 
our fathers to be requited upon their posterity. " Behold it is written." Isa. Ixv. 6. 
What a vanity is it then to be regardless of the sins of an age that went before us ; 
because they are in some measure out of our knowledge, are they therefore blotted 
out of God s remembrance ? Sins are bound up with him, as men do bonds, till 
they resolve to sue for the debt. " The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up." Hosea 


xiii. 12. As his foreknowledge extends to all acts that shall be done, so his remem 
brance extends to all acts that have been done. We may as well say, God fore 
knows nothing that shall be done to the end of the world, as that he forgets anything 
that hath been done from the beginning of the world. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 11. " He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hideth his face ; he 
will never see it." Many say in their hearts, " God seeth them not," while with 
their tongues they confess he is an all-seeing God. The heart hath a tongue in it 
as well as the head, and these two tongues seldom speak the same language. While 
the head-tongue saith, " We cannot hide ourselves from the sight of God," the 
heart-tongue of wicked men will say, " God will hide himself from us, he will not 
see." But if their heart speak not thus, then as the prophet saith (Isa. xxix. 15), 
" They dig deep to hide their counsel from the Lord ; " surely they have a hope 
to hide their counsels, else they would not dig deep to hide them. Their digging is 
nor proper, but tropical ; as men dig deep to hide what they would not have in the 
earth, so they by their wits, plots, and devices, do their best to hide their counsels 
from God, and they say, " Who seeth, who knoweth ? We, surely, are not seen either 
by God or man." Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 11. The Scripture everywhere places sin upon this root. " God hath 
forgotten : he hideth his face ; he will never see it." He hath turned his back upon the 
world. This was the ground of the oppression of the poor by the wicked, which he 
mentions, verses 9, 10. There is no sin but receives both its birth and nourishment 
from this bitter root. Let the notion of providence be once thrown out, or the 
belief of it faint, how will ambition, covetousness, neglect of God, distrust, impatience, 
and all other bitter gourds, grow up in a night I It is from this topic all iniquity 
will draw arguments to encourage itself ; for nothing so much discountenances those 
rising corruptions, and puts them out of heart, as an actuated belief that God takes 
care of human affairs. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 11. " He hath said in his heart," etc. " Because sentence against an 
evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully 
set in them to do evil." Eccl. viii. 11. God forbears punishing, therefore men for 
bear repenting. He doth not smite upon their back by correction, therefore they 
do not smite upon their thigh by humiliation. Jer. xxxi. 19. The sinner thinks 
thus : " God hath spared me all this while, he hath eked out patience into longsuffer- 
ing ; surely he will not punish." " He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten." 
God sometimes in infinite patience adjourns his judgments and puts off the sessions 
a while longer ; he is not willing to punish. 2 Peter iii. 9. The bee naturally gives 
honey, but stings only when it is angered. The Lord would have men make their 
peace with him. Isa. xxvii. 5. God is not like a hasty creditor that requires the 
debt, and will give no time for the payment ; he is not only gracious, but " waits to 
be gracious." (Isa. xxx. 18) ; but God by his patience would bribe sinners to repen 
tance ; but alas I how is this patience abused. God s longsuffering hardens : 
because God stops the vials of his wrath, sinners stop the conduit of tears. Thomas 

Verse 11. " He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten : he hideth his face ; he 
will never see it." Because the Lord continues to spare them, therefore they go 
on to provoke him. As he adds to their lives, so they add to their lusts. What is 
this, but as if a man should break all his bones because there is a surgeon who is 

able to set them again ? Because justice seems to wink, men suppose her blind ; 

because she delays punishment, they imagine she denies to punish them ; because 
she does not always reprove them for their sins, they suppose she always approves 
of their sins. But let such know, that the silent arrow can destroy as well as the 
roaring cannon. Though the patience of God be lasting, yet it is not everlastina. 
William Secher. 

Verses 11, 12, 13. The atheist denies God s ordering of sublunary matters. 
" Tush, doth the Lord see, or is there knowledge in the Most High ? " making him a 
maimed Deity, without an eye of providence, or an arm of power, and at most 
restraining him only to matters above the clouds. But he that dares to confine 
the King to heaven, will soon after endeavour to depose him and fall at last flatly 
to deny him. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 13. " He hath said in his heart, Thou will not require it." As when the 
desperate pirate, ransacking and rifling a bottom, was told by the master, that 
though no law could touch him for the present, he should answer it at the day of 


judgment, replied, " If I may stay so long ere I come to it, I will take thee and thy 
vessel too." A conceit wherewith too many land-thieves and oppressors flatter 
themselves in their hearts, though they dare not utter it with their lips. Thomas 

Verses 13, 14. What, do you think that God doth not remember our sins which 
we do not regard? for while we sin the score runs on, and the Judge setteth down 
in that table of remembrance, and his scroll reacheth up to heaven. Item, for 
lending to usury ; item, for racking of rents ; item, for starching thy ruffs ; item, 
for curling thy hair ; item, for painting thy face ; item, for selling of benefices ; 
item, for starving of souls ; item, for playing at cards ; item, for sleeping in the 
church ; item, for profaning the Sabbath-day, with a number more hath God to 
call to account, for every one must answer for himself. The fornicator, for 
taking of filthy pleasure ; the careless prelate, for murthering so many thousand 
souls ; the landlord, for getting money from his poor tenants by racking of his 
rents ; see the rest, all they shall come like very sheep when the trumpet shall 
sound, and the heaven and earth shall come to judgment against them ; when the 
heavens shall vanish like a scroll, and the earth shall consume like fire, and all the 
creatures standing against them ; the rocks shall cleave asunder and the mountains 
shake and the foundation of the earth shall tremble, and they shall say to the moun 
tain, Cover us, fall upon us, and hide us from the presence of his anger and wrath, 
whom we have not cared to offend. But they shall not be covered and hid ; but 
then shall they go the back way, to the snakes and serpents, to be tormented of 
devils for ever. Henry Smith. 

Verse 14. " Thou hast seen it ; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite 
it with thy hands," etc. This should be a terror to the wicked, to think that what 
soever they do, they do it in the sight of him that shall fudge them, and call them 
to a strict account for every thought conceived against his majesty ; and therefore, 
it should make them afraid to sin ; because that when they burn with lust, and 
toil with hatred, when they scorn the just and wrong the innocent, they do all this, 
not only in conspectu Dei, within the compass of God s sight, but also in sinu divini- 
tatis, in the bosom of that Deity, who, though he suffered them for a time to run on, 
like " a wild ass used to the wilderness," yet he will find them out at the last, and 
then cut them off and destroy them. And as this is terror unto the wicked, so it 
may be a comfort unto the godly to think that he who should hear their prayers 
and send them help, is so near unto them ; and it should move them to rely still 
upon him, because we are sure of his presence wherever we are. G. Williams, 1636. 

Verse 14. " The poor committeth himself unto thee." The awkwardness of our 
hearts to suffer comes much from distrust. An unbelieving soul treads upon the 
promise as a man upon ice ; at first going upon it he is full of fears and tumultuous 
thoughts lest it should crack. Now, daily resignation of thy heart, as it will give 
thee an occasion of conversing more with the thoughts of God s power, faith 
fulness, and other of his attributes (for want of familiarity with which, jealousies 
arise in our hearts when put to any great plunge), so also it will furnish thee with 
many experiences of the reality both of his attributes and promises ; which, though 
they need not any testimony from sense, to gain them credit with us, yet so much 
are we made of sense, so childish and weak is our faith, that we find our hearts much 
helped by those experiences we have had, to rely on him for the future. Look, 
therefore, carefully to this ; every morning leave thyself and ways in God s hand, 
as the phrase is. Psalm x. 14. And at night look again how well God hath looked 
to his trust, and sleep not till thou hast affected thy heart with his faithfulness, 
and laid a stronger charge on thy heart to trust itself again in God s keeping in the 
night. And when any breach is made, and seeming loss befalls thee in any enjoy 
ment, which thou hast by faith insured of thy God, observe how God fills up that 
breach, and makes up that loss to thee ; and rest not till thou hast fully vindicated 
the good name of God to thy own heart. Be sure thou lettest no discontent or 
dissatisfaction lie upon thy spirit at God s dealings ; but chide thy heart for it, 
as David did his. Psalm xlii. And thus doing, with God s blessing, thou shalt 
keep thy faith in breath for a longer race, when called to run it. W. Gurnall. 

Verse 14. " Thou art the helper of the fatherless." God doth exercise a more 
special providence over men, as clothed with miserable circumstances ; and there 
fore among his other titles this is one, to be a " helper of the fatherless." It is the 
argument the church used to express her return to God ; Hosea xiv. 3, " For in 


thee the fatherless find mercy." Now what greater comfort is there than this, that 
there is one presides in the world who is so wise he cannot be mistaken, so faithful 
he cannot deceive, so pitiful he cannot neglect his people, and so powerful that he 

can make stones even to be turned into bread if he please 1 God doth not 

govern the world only by his will as an absolute monarch, but by his wisdom and 
goodness as a tender father. It is not his greatest pleasure to show his sovereign 
^ower, or his inconceivable wisdom, but his immense goodness, to which he makes 
the other attributes subservient. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 14. " Thou hast seen it," etc. If God did not see our ways, we might sin 
and go unpunished ; but forasmuch as he seeth them with purer eyes than to behold 
iniquity and approve it, he is engaged both in justice and honour to punish all that 
iniquity of our ways which he seeth or beholdeth. David makes this the very 
design of God s superintendency over the ways of men : " Thou, hast seen it : for 
thou beholdest mischief and spite to requite it with thij hand : the poor committeth him 
self unto thee ; thou art the helper of the fatherless." Thus the Psalmist represents 
the Lord as having taken a view or survey of the ways of men. " Thou hast seen." 
What hath God seen ? Even all that wickedness and oppression of the poor spoken 
of in the former part of the Psalm, as also the blasphemy of the wicked against 
himself (verse 13), " Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God ? he hath said in his 
heart, Thou wilt not require it." What saith the Psalmist concerning God, to this 
vain, confident man ? " Thou," saith he, " beholdest mischief and spite ; " but to 
what purpose ? the next words tell us that " to requite it with thy hand." As 
thou hast seen what mischief they have done spitefully, so in due time thou wilt 
requite it righteously. The Lord is not a bare spectator, he is both a rewarder and 
an avenger. Therefore, from the ground of this truth, that the Lord seeth all our 
ways, and counteth all our steps, we, as the prophet exhorts (Isaiah iii. 10, 11), 
may " say to the righteous, that it shall be well with him : for they shall eat the 
fruit of their doings." We may also say, " Woe unto the wicked I it shall be ill 
with him : for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Only idols which have 
eyes and see not, have hands and strike not. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 14. " Thou hast seen it ; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite 
it with thy hand : the poor committeth himself unto thee ; thou art the helper of the 
fatherless." Let the poor know that their God doth take care of them, to visit 
their sins with rods who spoil them, seeing they have forgotten that we are members 
one of another, and have invaded the goods of their brethren ; God will arm them 
against themselves, and beat them with their own staves ; either their own 
compassing and over-reaching wits shall consume their store, or their unthrifty 
posterity shall put wings upon their riches to make them fly ; or God shall not 
give them the blessing to take use of their wealth, but they shall leave to such as 
shall be merciful to the poor. Therefore let them follow the wise man s counsel 
(Eccles. x. 20), " Curse not the rich, no, not in thy bedchamber ; " let no railing 
and unchristian bitterness wrong a good cause ; let it be comfort enough to them 
that God is both their supporter and avenger. Is it not sufficient to lay all the 
storms of discontent against their oppressors, that God sees their affliction, and 
cometh down to deliver and avenge them ? Edward Marbury. 

Verse 14. " Thou hast seen it ; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite 
it with thy hand," etc. God considers all your works and ways, and will not you 
consider the works, the ways of God ? Of this be sure, whether you consider the 
ways of God, his word-ways, or work-ways, of this be sure, God will consider your 
ways, certainly he will ; those ways of yours which in themselves are not worth 
the considering or looking upon, your sinful ways, though they are so vile, so abomin 
able, that if yourselves did but look upon them and consider them, you would be 
utterly ashamed of them ; yea, though they are an abomination to God while he 
beholds them, yet he will behold and consider them. The Lord who is of purer 
eyes than to behold any the least iniquity, to approve it, will yet behold the greatest 
of your iniquities, and your impurest ways to consider them. " Thou," said David, 
" beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it : " God beholdeth the foulest, dirtiest 
ways of men, their ways of oppression and unrighteousness, their ways of in 
temperance and lasciviousness, their ways of wrath and maliciousness, at once 
to detest, detect, and requite them. If God thus considereth the ways of men, 
even those filthy and crooked ways of men, should not men consider the holy, just 
and righteous ways of God ? Joseph Caryl. 

Verses 14 18. " God delights to help the poor." He loves to take part with 


the best, though the weakest side. Contrary to the course of most, who when 
a controversy arises use to stand in a kind of indifferency or neutrality, till they 
see which part is strongest, not which is justest. Now if there be any consideration 
(besides the cause) that draws or engages God, it is the weakness of the side. He 
joins with many, because they are weak, not with any, because they are strong ; 
therefore he is called the helper of the friendless, and with him the fatherless (the 
orphans) find mercy. By fatherless we are not to understand such only whose 
parents are dead, but any one that is in distress ; as Christ promiseth his disciples ; 
" / will not leave you orphans," that is, helpless, and (as we translate) comfortless ; 
though ye are as children without a father, yet I will be a father to you. Men 
are often like those clouds which dissolve into the sea ; they send presents to the 
rich, and assist the strong ; but God sends his rain upon the dry land, and lends his 
strength to those who are weak The prophet makes this report to God of him 
self (Isaiah xxv. 4) : " Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy 
in his distress, a refuge from the storm," etc. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 16. " The Lord is King for ever and ever : the heathen are perished out 
of his land." Such confidence and faith must appear to the world strange and 
unaccountable. It is like what his fellow citizens may be supposed to have felt 
(if the story be true) toward that man of whom it is recorded, that his powers of 
vision were so extraordinary, that he could distinctly see the fleet of the Carthaginians 
entering the harbour of Carthage, while he stood himself at Lilybceum, in Sicily. 
A man seeing across an ocean, and able to tell of objects so far off I he could feast 
his vision on what others saw not. Even thus does faith now stand at its Lilybceum, 
and see the long tossed fleet entering safely the desired haven, enjoying the bliss 
of that still distant day, as if it was already come. Andrew A. Bonar. 

Verse 17. There is a humbling act of faith put forth in prayer. Others style 
it praying in humility ; give me leave to style it praying in faith. In faith which 
sets the soul in the presence of that mighty God, and by the sight of him, which 
faith gives us, it is that we see our own vileness, sinfulness, and abhor ourselves, 
and profess ourselves unworthy of any, much less of those mercies we are to seek 
for. Thus the sight of God had wrought in the prophet (Isaiah vi. 5), " Then said 
I, Woe is me I for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips : for mine 
eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." And holy Job speaks thus (Job xlii. 
5, 6), " Now mine eye seeth thee : wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust 
and ashes." This is as great a requisite to prayer as any other act ; I may say 
of it alone, as the apostle (James i. 7), that without it we shall receive nothing at 
the hands of God 1 God loves to fill empty vessels, he looks to broken hearts. 
In the Psalms how often do we read that God hears the prayers of the humble ; 
which always involves and includes faith in it. Psalm ix. 12, " He forgetteth not 
the cry of the humble," and Psalm x. 17, " Lord thou hast heard the desire of the 
humble : thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." To be deeply 
humbled is to have the heart prepared and fitted for God to hear the prayer ; and 
therefore you find the Psalmist pleading sub forma pauperis, often repeating, " I am 
poor and needy." And this prevents our thinking much if God do not grant the 
particular thing we do desire. Thus also Christ himself in his great distress (Psalm 
xxii), doth treat God (verse 2), " O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest 
not ; and in the night season am not silent. Our fathers trusted in thee. They 
cried unto thee, and were delivered. But I am a worm, and no man ; reproached 
of men, and despised of the people ; (verse 6) " and he was " heard " in the end 
" in what he feared." And these deep humblings of ourselves, being joined with 
vehement implorations upon the mercy of God to obtain, is reckoned into the account 
of praying by faith, both by God and Christ. Matt. viii. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 17. " Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble." A spiritual prayer 
is a humble prayer. Prayer is the asking of an alms, which requires humility. 
" The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, 
but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful tome a sinner." Luke xviii. 13. 
God s incomprehensible glory may even amaze us and strike a holy consternation 
into us when we approach nigh unto him : " O my God, I am ashamed and blush 
to lift up my face to thee." Ezra ix. 6. It is comely to see a poor nothing lie 
prostrate at the feet of its Maker. " Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak 
unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." Gen. xviii. 27. The lower the 
heart descends, the higher the prayer ascends. Thomas Watson. 


Verse 17. " Lord, tlwu hast heard the desire of the humble," etc. How pleasant 
is it, that these benefits, which are of so great a value both on their own account, 
and that of the divine benignity from whence they come, should be delivered into 
our hands, marked, as it were, with this grateful inscription, that they have been 
obtained by prayer ! Robert Leighton. 

Verse 17. " The desire of the humble." Prayer is the offering up of our desires 
to God in the name of Christ, for such things as are agreeable to his will. It is 
an offering of our desires. Desires are the soul and life of prayer ; words are but 
the body ; now as the body without the soul is dead, so are prayers unless they are 
animated with our desires : " Lord, thou hasl heard the desire of the humble." God 
heareth not words, but desires. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 17. God s choice acquaintances are humble men. Robert Leighton. 

Verse 17. He that sits nearest the dust, sits nearest heaven. Andrew Gray, 
of Glasgow, 1616. 

Verse 17. There is a kind of omnipotency in prayer, as having an interest 
and prevalency with God s omnipotency. It hath loosed iron chains (Acts xvi. 
25, 26) ; it hath opened iron gates (Acts xii. 5 10) ; it hath unlocked the windows 
of heaven (1 Kings xviii. 41) ; it hath broken the bars of death (John xi. 40, 43). 
Satan hath three titles given in the Scriptures, setting forth his malignity against 
the church of God : a dragon, to note his malice ; a serpent, to note his subtlety ; 
and a lion, to note his strength. But none of all these can stand before prayer. 
The greatest malice of Haman sinks under the prayer of Esther ; the deepest policy, 
the counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the prayer of David ; the largest army, 
a host of a thousand Ethiopians, run away like cowards before the prayer of Asa. 
Edward Reynolds, 15991676. 

Verse 18. " To fudge the fatherless and the oppressed," etc. The tears of the 
poor fall down upon their cheeks, et ascendant ad ccelum, and go up to heaven and 
cry for vengeance before God, the judge of widows, the father of widows and orphans. 
Poor people be oppressed even by laws. Woe worth to them that make evil laws 
against the poor, what shall be to them that hinder and mar good laws ? What 
will ye do in the day of great vengeance when God shall visit you ? he saith he 
will hear the tears of the poor woman, when he goeth on visitation. For their 
sake he will hurt the judge, be he never so high, he will for widows sakes change 
realms, bring them into temptation, pluck his judges skins over their heads. 
Cambyses was a great emperor, such another as our master is, he had many lord 
deputies, lord presidents, and lieutenants under him. It is a great while ago since 
I read the history. It chanced he had under him in one of his dominions a briber, 
a gift-taker, a gratifier of rich men ; he followed gifts as fast as he that followed 
the pudding ; a handmaker in his office, to make his son a great man, as the old 
saying is " Happy is the child whose father goeth to the devil." The cry of the 
poor widow came to the emperor s ear, and caused him to slay the judge quick, 
and laid his skin in his chair of judgment, that all judges that should give judgment 
afterward, should sit in the same skin. Surely it was a goodly sign, a goodly 
monument, the sign of the judge s skin. I pray God we may once see the sign of 
the skin in England. Ye will say, peradventure, that this is cruelly and uncharitably 
spoken. No, no ; I do it charitably, for a love I bear to my country. God saith, 
" I will visit." God hath two visitations ; the first is when he revealeth his word 
by preachers ; and where the first is accepted, the second cometh not. The second 
visitation is vengeance. He went to visitation when he brought the judge s skin 
over his ears. If this word be despised, he cometh with the second visitation with 
vengeance. Hugh Latimer, 1480 1555. 

Verse 18. " Man of the earth," etc. In the eighth Psalm (which is a circular 
Psalm ending as it did begin, " O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all 
the world I " That whithersoever we turn our eyes, upwards or downwards, we 
may see ourselves beset with his glory round about), how doth the prophet base 
and discountenance the nature and whole race of man ; as may appear by his 
disdainful and derogatory interrogation, "What is man that thou art mindful of 
him ; and the Son of Man, that thou regardest him ? " In the ninth Psalm, " Rise, 
Lord ; let not man have the upper hand ; let the nations be judged in thy sight. 
Put them in fear, O Lord, that the heathen may know themselves to be but men." 
Further, in the tenth Psalm, " Thou judgest the fatherless and the poor, that the 
man of the earth do no more violence." 


The Psalms, as they go in order, so, methinks they grow in strength, and each 
hath a weightier force to throw down our presumption. 1. We are " men," 
and the " sons of men," to show our descent and propagation. 2. " Men in our 
own knowledge," to show that conscience and experience of infirmity doth convict 
us. 3. " Men of the earth," to show our orginal matter whereof we are framed. 
In the twenty-second Psalm, he addeth more disgrace ; for either in his own name, 
regarding the misery and contempt wherein he was held, or in the person of Christ, 
whose figure he was, as if it were a robbery for him to take upon him the nature 
of man, he falleth to a lower style, at ego sum vermis et non vir ; but I am a worm, 
and no man. For as corruption is the father of all flesh, so are the worms his brethren 
and sisters, according to the old verse 

" First man, next worms, then stench and loathsomeness. 

Thus man to no man alters by changes." 

Abraham, the father of the faithful (Genesis xviii.), sifteth himself into the coarsest 
man that can be, and resolveth his nature into the elements whereof it first rose. 
" Behold I have begun to speak to my Lord, being dust and ashes." And if any 
of the children of Abraham, who succeed him in the faith, or any of the children 
of Adam, who succeed him in the flesh, thinketh otherwise, let him know that there 
is a threefold cord twisted by the finger of God, that shall tie him to his first original, 
though he contend till his heart break. " O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of 
the Lord " (Jer. xxii) ; that is, earth by creation, earth by continuance, earth by 
resolution. Thou earnest earth, thou remainest earth, and to earth thou must 
return. John King. 

Verse 18. " The man of the earth." Man dwelling in the earth, and made of 
earth. Thomas Wilcocks. 


Verse 1. -The answer to these questions furnishes a noble topic for an ex 
perimental sermon. Let me suggest that the question is not to be answered in 
the same manner in all cases. Past sin, trials of graces, strengthening of faith, 
discovery of depravity, instruction, etc., etc., are varied reasons for the hiding 
of our Father s face. 

Verse 2. Religious persecution in all its phases based on pride. 

Verse 3. God s hatred of covetousness : show its justice. 

Verse 4. Pride the barrier in the way of conversion. 

Verse 4 (last clause). Thoughts in which God is not, weighed and condemned. 

Verse 5. " Thy judgments are far above out of his sight." Moral inability of 
men to appreciate the character and acts of God. 

Verse 6. The vain confidence of sinners. 

Verse 8. Dangers of godly men, or the snares in the way of believers. 

Verse 9. The ferocity, craftiness, strength, and activity of Satan. 

Verse 9 (last clause). The Satanic fisherman, his art, diligence, success, etc. 

Verse 10. Designing humility unmasked. 

Verse 11. Divine omniscience and the astounding presumption of sinners. 

Verse 12. " Arise, O Lord." A prayer needful, allowable, seasonable, etc. 

Verse 13 (first clause). An astounding fact, and a reasonable enquiry. 

Verse 13. Future retribution : doubts concerning it. 1. By whom indulged : 
" the wicked." II. Where fostered : " in his heart." III. For what purpose : 
quieting of conscience, etc. IV. With what practical tendency : " contemn God." 
He who disbelieves hell distrusts heaven. 

Verses 13, 14. Divine government in the world. I. Who doubt it ? and 
why ? II. Who believe it ? and what does this faith cause them to do ? 

Verse 14 (last clause). A plea for orphans. 

Verse 16. The Eternal Kingship of Jehovah. 

Verse 17 (first clause). I. The Christian s character " humble." II. An 
attribute of the Christian s whole life " desire : " he desires more holiness, com 
munion, knowledge, grace, and usefulness ; and then he desires glory. III. The 
Christian s great blessedness " Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble." 

Verse 17 (whole verse). I. Consider the nature of gracious desires. II. Their 
origin. III. Their result. The three sentences readily suggest these divisions, 
and the subject may be very profitable. 


SUBJECT. Charles Simeon gives an excellent summary of this Psalm in the following 
sentences : " The Psalms are a rich repository of experimental knowledge. David, 
at the different periods of his life, was placed in almost every situation in which a believer, 
whether rich or poor, can be placed ; and in these heavenly compositions he delineates 
all the workings of the heart. He introduces, too, the sentiments and conduct of the 
various persons who were accessory either to his troubles or his joys ; and thus sets before 
us a compendium of all that is passing in the hearts of men throughout the world. When 
he penned this Psalm he was under persecution from Saul, who sought his life, and 
hunted him as a partridge upon the mountains. His timid friends were alarmed 
for his safety, and recommended him to flee to some mountain where he had a hiding- 
place, and thus to conceal himself from the rage of Saul. But David, being strong in 
faith, spurned the idea of resorting to any such pusillanimous expedients, and determined 
confidently to repose his trust in God." 

To assist us to remember this short, but sweet Psalm, we will give it the name of 

DIVISION. From 1 to 3, David describes the temptation with which he was assailed, 
and from 4 to 7, the arguments by which his courage was sustained. 


TN the LORD put I my trust : how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your 
* mountain ? 

2 For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon 
the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart. 

3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ? 

These verses contain an account of a temptation to distrust God, with which 
David was, upon some unmentioned occasion, greatly exercised. It may be, 
that in the days when he was in Saul s court, he was advised to flee at a time when 
this flight would have been charged against him as a breach of duty to the king, or a 
proof of personal cowardice. His case was like that of Nehemiah, when his enemies, 
under the garb of friendship, hoped to entrap him by advising him to escape for 
his life. Had he done so, they could then have found a ground of accusation. 
Nehemiah bravely replied, " Shall such a man as I flee ? " and David, in a like 
spirit, refuses to retreat, exclaiming, " In the Lord put I my trust : how say ye to 
my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ? " When Satan cannot overthrow us 
by presumption, how craftily will he seek to ruin us by distrust 1 He will employ 
our dearest friends to argue us out of our confidence, and he will use such plausible 
logic, that unless we once for all assert our immovable trust in Jehovah, he will 
make us like the timid bird which flies to the mountain whenever danger presents 
itself. How forcibly the case is put ! The bow is bent, the arrow is fitted to the 
string : " Flee, flee, thou defenceless bird, thy safety lies in flight ; begone, for 
thine enemies will send their shafts into thy heart ; haste, haste, for soon wilt thou 
be destroyed I " David seems to have felt the force of the advice, for it came 
home to his soul ; but yet he would not yield, but would rather dare the danger 
than exhibit a distrust in the Lord his God. Doubtless, the perils which encompassed 
David were great and imminent ; it was quite true that his enemies were ready 
to shoot privily at him ; it was equally correct that the very foundations of law and 
justice were destroyed under Saul s unrighteous government : but what were all 
these things to the man whose trust was in God alone ? He could brave the dangers, 
could escape the enemies, and defy the injustice which surrounded him. His 
answer to the question, " What can the righteous do ? " would be the counter- 
question, " What cannot they do ? " When prayer engages God on our side, and 
when faith secures the fulfilment of the promise, what cause can there be for flight, 
however cruel and mighty our enemies ? With a sling and a stone, David had 



smitten a giant before whom the whole hosts of Israel were trembling, and the 
Lord, who delivered him from the uncircumcised Philistine, could surely deliver 
him from King Saul and his myrmidons. There is no such word as "impossibility" 
in the language of faith ; that martial grace knows how to fight and conquer, 
but she knows not how to flee. 

4 The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD S throne is in heaven : his 
eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. 

5 The LORD trieth the righteous : but the wicked and him that loveth 
violence his soul hateth. 

6 Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible 
tempest : this shall be the portion of their cup. 

7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness ; his countenance doth 
behold the upright. 

David here declares the great source of his unflinching courage. He borrows 
his light from heaven from the great central orb of deity. The God of the believer 
is never far from him ; he is not merely the God of the mountain fastnesses, but of 
the dangerous valleys and battle plains. 

" Jehovah is in his holy temple." The heavens are above our heads in all regions 
of the earth, and so is the Lord ever near to us in every state and condition. This 
is a very strong reason why we should not adopt the vile suggestions of distrust. 
There is one who pleads his precious blood in our behalf in the temple above, and 
there is one upon the throne who is never deaf to the intercession of his Son. Why, 
then, should we fear? What plots can men devise which Jesus will not discover? 
Satan has doubtless desired to have us, that he may sift us as wheat, but Jesus 
is in the temple praying for us, and how can our faith fail ? What attempts can 
the wicked make which Jehovah shall not behold ? And since he is in his holy 
temple, delighting in the sacrifice of his Son, will he not defeat every device, and 
send us a sure deliverance ? 

" Jehovah s throne is in the heavens ; " he reigns supreme. Nothing can be 
done in heaven, or earth, or hell, which he doth not ordain and over-rule. He 
is the world s great Emperor. Wherefore, then, should we flee ? If we trust 
this King of kings, is not this enough ? Cannot he deliver us without our cowardly 
retreat ? Yes, blessed be the Lord our God, we can salute him as Jehovah-nissi ; 
in his name we set up our banners, and, instead of flight, we once more raise the 
shout of war. 

"His eyes behold." The eternal Watcher never slumbers ; his eyes never know 
a sleep. " His eyelids try the children of men : " he narrowly inspects their actions, 
words and thoughts. As men, when intently and narrowly inspecting some very 
minute object, almost close their eyelids to exclude every other object, so will the 
Lord look all men through and through. God sees each man as much and as perfectly 
as if there were no other creature in the universe. He sees us always ; he never 
removes his eye from us ; he sees us entirely, reading the recesses of the soul as 
readily as the glancing of the eye. Is not this a sufficient ground of confidence, 
and an abundant answer to the solicitations of despondency ? My danger is not 
hid from him ; he knows my extremity, and I may rest assured that he will not 
suffer me to perish while I rely alone on him. Wherefore, then, should I take the 
wings of the timid bird, and flee from the dangers which beset me. 

" The Lord trieth the righteous : " he doth not hate them, but only tries them. 
They are precious to him, and therefore he refines them with afflictions. None 
of the Lord s children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, 
would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings. 

" Tis my happiness below 

Not to live without the cross ; 
But the Saviour s power to know. 
Sanctifying every loss. 

Trials make the promise sweet ; 

Trials give new life to prayer ; 
Trials bring me to his feet 

Lay me low, and keep me there. 


Did I meet no trials here 

No chastisement by the way 
Might I not, with reason, fear 

I should prove a cast-away ! 

Bastards may escape the rod, 

Sunk in earthly vain delight ; 
But the true-born child of God 

Must not would not, if he might." 

William Cowper. 

Is not this a very cogent reason why we should not distrustfully endeavour to shun 
a trial ? for in so doing we are seeking to avoid a blessing. 

"But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth : " why, then, shall 
I flee from these wicked men ? If God hateth them, I will not fear them. Haman 
was very great in the palace until he lost favour, but when the king abhorred him, 
how bold were the meanest attendants to suggest the gallows for the man at whom 
they had often trembled ! Look at the black mark upon the faces of our persecutors, 
and we shall not run away from them. If God is in the quarrel as well as ourselves, 
it would be foolish to question the result, or avoid the conflict. Sodom and 
Gomorrah perished by a fiery hail, and by a brimstone shower from heaven ; so 
shall all the ungodly. They may gather together like Gog and Magog to battle, 
but the Lord will rain upon them " an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, 
and brimstone : " Ezek. xxxviii. 22. Some expositors think that in the term 
" horrible tempest," there is in the Hebrew an allusion to that burning, suffocating 
wind, which blows across the Arabian deserts, and is known by the name of Simoom. 
" A burning storm," Lowth calls it, while another great commentator reads it 
" wrathwind ; " in either version the language is full of terrors. What a tempest 
will that be which shall overwhelm the despisers of God 1 Oh ! what a shower 
will that be which shall pour out itself for ever upon the defenceless heads of im 
penitent sinners in hell I Repent, ye rebels, or this fiery deluge shall soon surround 
you. Hell s horrors shall be your inheritance, your entailed estate, " the portion 
of your cup." The dregs of that cup you shall wring out, and drink for ever. A 
drop of hell is terrible, but what must a full cup of torment be ? Think of it 
a cup of misery, but not a drop of mercy. O people of God, how foolish is it to fear the 
faces of men who shall soon be faggots in the fire of hell 1 Think of their end, their 
fearful end, and all fear of them must be changed into contempt of their threatenings 
and pity for their miserable estate. 

The delightful contrast of the last verse is well worthy of our observation, and 
it affords another overwhelming reason why we should be stedfast, unmovable, 
not carried away with fear, or led to adopt carnal expedients in order to avoid 
trial. " For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness." It is not only his office 
to defend it, but his nature to love it. He would deny himself if he did not defend 
the just. It is essential to the very being of God that he should be just ; fear not, 
then, the end of all your trials, but " be just, and fear not." God approves, and, 
if men oppose, what matters it ? " His countenance doth behold the upright." We 
need never be out of countenance, for God countenances us. He observes, he 
approves, he delights in the upright. He sees his own image in them, an image 
of his own fashioning, and therefore with complacency he regards them. Shall 
we dare to put forth our hand unto iniquity in order to escape affliction ? Let us 
have done with by-ways and short turnings, and let us keep to that fair path of 
right along which Jehovah s smile shall light us. Are we tempted to put our light 
under a bushel, to conceal our religion from our neighbours ? Is it suggested to 
us that there are ways of avoiding the cross, and shunning the reproach of Christ ? 
Let us not hearken to the voice of the charmer, but seek an increase of faith, that 
we may wrestle with principalities and powers, and follow the Lord, fully going 
without the camp, bearing his reproach. Mammon, the flesh, the devil, will all 
whisper in our ear, " Flee as a bird to your mountain ; " but let us come forth and 
defy them all. " Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." There is no room 
or reason for retreat. Advance ! Let the vanguard push on 1 To the front ! all 
ye powers and passions of our soul. On I on ! in God s name, on 1 for " the Lord 
of hosts is with us ; the God of Jacob is our refuge." 



Whole Psalm. The most probable account of the occasion of this Psalm is that 
given by Amyraldus. He thinks it was composed by David while he was in the 
court of Saul, at a time when the hostility of the king was beginning to show itself, 
and before it had broken out into open persecution. David s friends, or those 
professing to be so, advised him to flee to his native mountains for a time, and 
remain in retirement, till the king should show himself more favourable. David 
does not at that time accept the counsel, though afterwards he seems to have 
followed it. This Psalm applies itself to the establishment of the church against 
the calumnies of the world and the compromising counsel of man, in that confi 
dence which is to be placed in God the Judge of all. W. Wilson, D.D., in loc., 

Whole Psalm. If one may offer to make a modest conjecture, it is not im 
probable this Psalm might be composed on the sad murder of the priests by Saul 
(1 Sam. xxii. 19), when after the slaughter of Abimelech, the high priest, Doeg, 
the Edomite, by command from Saul, " slew in one day fourscore and five persons 
which wore a linen ephod." I am not so carnal as to build the spiritual church 
of the Jews on the material walls of the priests city at Nob (which then by Doeg 
was smitten with the edge of the sword), but this is most true, that " knowledge 
must preserve the people ; " and (Mai. ii. 7), " The priests lips shall preserve 
knowledge;" and then it is easy to conclude, what an earthquake this massacre 
might make in the foundations of religion. Thomas Fuller. 

Whole Psalm. Notice how remarkably the whole Psalm corresponds with 
the deliverance of Lot from Sodom. This verse, with the angel s exhortation, 
" Escape to the mountains, lest thou be consumed," and Lot s reply, " I cannot 
escape to the mountains, lest some evil take me and I die." Genesis xix. 17 19. 
And again, " The Lord s seat is in heaven, and upon the ungodly he shall rain snares, 
fire, brimstone, storm and tempest," with " Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and 
Gomorrah brimstone and fire out of heaven : " and again, " His countenance 
will behold the thing that is just," with " Delivered just Lot .... for that righteous 
man vexed his righteous soul with their ungodly deeds." 2 Peter ii. 7, 8. Cassiodorus 
(A.D., 560) m John Mason Neale s " Commentary on the Psalms, from Primitive 
and Mediaeval Writers," 1860. 

Whole Psalm. The combatants at the Lake Thrasymene are said to have been 
so engrossed with the conflict, that neither party perceived the convulsions of 
nature that shook the ground 

" An earthquake reeled unheedingly away, 
None felt stern nature rocking at his feet." 

From a nobler cause, it is thus with the soldiers of the Lamb. They believe, and, 
therefore, make no haste ; nay, they can scarcely be said to feel earth s convulsions 
as other men, because their eager hope presses forward to the issue at the advent 
of the Lord. Andrew A. Bonar. 

Verse 1. "/ trust in the Lord: how do ye say to my soul, Swerve on to your 
mountain like a bird ? " (others, " thou bird.") Saul and his adherents mocked 
and jeered David with such taunting speeches, as conceiving that he knew no other 
shift or refuge, but so betaking himself unto wandering and lurking on the mountains ; 
hopping, as it were, from one place to another like a silly bird ; but they thought 
to ensnare and take him well enough for all that, not considering God who was 
David s comfort, rest and refuge. Theodore Haak s " Translation of the Dutch 
Annotations, as ordered by the Synod of Dort, in 1618." London, 1657. 

Verse 1. " With Jehovah I have taken shelter; how say ye to my soul, Flee, 
sparrows, to your hill ? " " Your hill," that hill from which you say your help 
cometh : a sneer. Repair to that boasted hill, which may indeed give you the 
help which it gives the sparrow : a shelter against the inclemencies of a stormy 
sky, no defence against our power. Samuel Horsley, in loc. 

Verse 1. " In the Lord put I my trust : how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird 
to your mountain ? " The holy confidence of the saints in the hour of great trial 
is beautifully illustrated by the following ballad which Anne Askew, who was burned 
at Smithfield in 1546, made and sang when she was in Newgate : 



Like as the armed knight, 
Appointed to the field, 
With this world will I fight, 
And Christ shall be my shield. 

Faith is that weapon strong, 
Which will not fail at need : 
My foes, therefore, among 
Therewith will I proceed. 

As it is had in strength 
And force of Christe s way, 
It will prevail at length, 
Though all the devils say nay. 

Faith in the fathers old 
Obtained righteousness ; 
Which make me very bold 
To fear no world s distress. 

I now rejoice in heart, 
And hope bids me do so ; 
For Christ will take my part. 
And ease me of my woe. 

Thou say st Lord, whoso knock, 
To them wilt thou attend : 
Undo therefore the lock, 
And thy strong power send. 

More enemies now I have 
Than hairs upon my head : 
Let them not me deprave, 
But fight thou in my stead. 

On thee my care I cast, 
For all their cruel spite : 
I set not by their haste ; 
For thou art my delight. 

I am not she that list 
My anchor to let fall 
For every drizzling mist. 
My ship substantial. 

Not oft use I to write. 
In prose, nor yet in rhyme ; 
Yet will I shew one sight 
That I saw in my time. 

I saw a royal throne, 
Where justice should have sit, 
But in her stead was one 
Of moody, cruel wit. 

Absorbed was righteousness. 
As of the raging flood : 
Satan, in his excess, 
Sucked up the guiltless blood. 

Then thought I, Jesus Lord, 
When thou shall judge us all, 
Hard it is to record 
On these men what will fall. 

Yet, Lord, I thee desire, 
For that they do to me, 
Let them not taste the hire 
Of their iniquity. 

Verse 1. " How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ? " We 
may observe, that David is much pleased with the metaphor in frequently com 
paring himself to a bird, and that of several sorts : first, to an eagle (Psalm ciii. 5), 
" My youth is renewed like the eagle s ; " sometimes to an owl (Psalm cii. 6), " I am 
like an owl in the desert ; " sometimes to a pelican, in the same verse, " Like a 
pelican in the wilderness ; " sometimes to a sparrow (Psalm cii. 7), " I watch, and 
am as a sparrow ; " sometimes to a partridge, " As when one doth hunt a partridge." 
I cannot say that he doth compare himself to a dove, but he would compare himself 
(Psalm Iv. 6), " O that I had the wings of a dove, for then I would flee away, and 
be at rest." Some will say, How is it possible that birds of so different a feather 
should all so fly together as to meet in the character of David ? To whom we 
answer, That no two men can more differ one from another, than the same servant 
of God at several times differeth from himself. David in prosperity, when com 
manding, was like an eagle ; in adversity, when contemned, like an owl ; in devotion, 
when retired, like a pelican; in solitariness, when having no company, like a sparrow; 
in persecution, when fearing too much company (of Saul), like a partridge. This 
general metaphor of a bird, which David so often used on himself, his enemies in 
the first verse of this Psalm used on him, though not particularising the kind thereof : 
" Flee as a bird to your mountain ; " that is, speedily betake thyself to thy God, 
in whom thou hopest for succour and security. 

Seeing this counsel was both good in itself, and good at this time, why doth 
David seem so angry and displeased thereat ? Those his words, " Why say you 
to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ? " import some passion, at leastwise, a 
disgust of the advice. It is answered, David was not offended with the counsel, 
but with the manner of the propounding thereof. His enemies did it ironically 
in a gibing, jeering way, as if his flying thither were to no purpose, and he unlikely 
to find there the safety he sought for. However, David was not hereby put out 
of conceit with the counsel, beginning this Psalm with this his firm resolution, 
" In the Lord put I my trust : how say ye then to my soul," etc. Learn we from 
hence, when men give us good counsel in a jeering way, let us take the counsel, and 
practise it ; and leave them the jeer to be punished for it. Indeed, corporal cordials 
may be envenomed by being wrapped up in poisoned papers ; not so good spiritual 


advice where the good matter receives no infection from the ill manner of the delivery 
thereof. Thus, when the chief priests mocked our Saviour (Matt, xxvii. 43), " He 
trusteth in God, let him deliver him now if he will have him." Christ trusted in 
God never a whit the less for the fleere and flout which their profaneness was pleased 
to bestow upon him. Otherwise, if men s mocks should make us to undervalue good 
counsel, we might in this age be mocked out of our God, and Christ, and Scripture, 
and heaven ; the apostle Jude, verse 18, having foretold that in the last times there 
should be mockers, walking after their own lusts. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 1. It is as great an offence to make a new, as to deny the true God. " In 
the Lord put I my trust ; " how then " say ye unto my soul " (ye seducers of souls), 
" that she should fly unto the mountains as a bird ; " to seek unnecessary and foreign 
helps, as if the Lord alone were not sufficient ? " The Lord is my rock, and my 
fortress, and he that delivereth me, my God, and my strength ; in him will I trust : 
my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge. I will call upon the Lord, 
who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be safe from mine enemies." " Whom have 
I in heaven but thee," amongst those thousands of angels and saints, what Michael 
or Gabriel, what Moses or Samuel, what Peter, what Paul ? " and there is none in 
earth that I desire in comparison of thee." John King, 1608. 

Verse 1. In temptations of inward trouble and terror, it is not convenient to 
dispute the matter with Satan. David in Psalm xlii. 11, seems to correct himself 
for his mistake ; his soul was cast down within him, and for the cure of that 
temptation, he had prepared himself by arguments for a dispute ; but perceiving 
himself in a wrong course, he calls off his soul from disquiet to an immediate 
application to God and the promises, " Trust still in God, for I shall yet praise 
him ; " but here he is more aforehand with his work ; for while his enemies were 
acted by Satan to discourage him, he rejects the temptation at first, before it settled 
upon his thoughts, and chaseth it away as a thing that he would not give ear to. 
" In the Lord put I my trust : how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain ? " 
And there are weighty reasons that should dissuade us from entering the lists with 
Satan in temptation of inward trouble. Richard Gilpin. 

Verse 1. The shadow will not cool except in it. What good to have the shadow 
though of a mighty rock, when we sit in the open sun ? To have almighty power 
engaged for us, and we to throw ourselves out of it, by bold sallies in the mouth of 
temptation ! The saints falls have been when they have run out of their trench 
and stronghold ; for, like the conies, they are a weak people in themselves, and 
their strength lies in the rock of God s almightiness, which is their habitation. 
William Gurnall, 

Verse 1. The saints of old would not accept deliverances on base terms. They 
scorned to fly away for the enjoyment of rest except it were with the wings of a 
dove, covered with silver innocence. As willing were many of the martyrs to 
die, as to dine. The tormentors were tired in torturing Blandina. " We are 
ashamed, O Emperor 1 The Christians laugh at your cruelty, and grow the more 
resolute," said one of Julian s nobles. This the heathen counted obstinacy ; but 
they knew not the power of the Spirit, nor the secret armour of proof which saints 
wear about their hearts. John Trapp. 

Verse 2. " For, lo, Ihe wicked bend their bow," etc. This verse presents an 
unequal combat betwixt armed power, advantaged with policy, on the one side ; 
and naked innocence on the other. First, armed power : " They bend their bows, 
and make ready their arrows," being all the artillery of that age ; secondly, 
advantaged with policy : " that they may privily shoot," to surprise them with an 
ambush unawares, probably pretending amity and friendship unto them ; thirdly, 
naked innocence : if innocence may be termed naked, which is its own armour ; 
"at the upright in heart." Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 2. "For, lo, the ungodly bend their bow, and make ready their arrows 
within the quiver : that they may privily shoot at them which are true of heart." The 
plottings of the chief priests and Pharisees that they might take Jesus by subtlety 
and kill him. They bent their bow, when they hired Judas Iscariot for the betrayal 
of his Master ; they made ready their arrows within the quiver when they sought 
" false witnesses against Jesus to put him to death." Matt. xxvi. 59. " Them 
which are true of heart." Not alone the Lord himself, the only true and righteous, 
but his apostles, and the long line of those who should faithfully cleave to him 
from that time to this. And as with the Master, so with the servants : witness 


the calumnies and the revilings that from the time of Joseph s accusation by his 
mistress till the present day, have been the lot of God s people. Michael Ayguan, 
1416, m J. M. Neale s Commentary. 

Verse 2. " That they may secretly shoot at them which are upright in heart." 
They bear not their bows and arrows as scarecrows in a garden of cucumbers, to 
fray, but to shoot, not at stakes, but men ; their arrows are facula mortifera (Psalm 
vii.), deadly arrows, and lest they should fail to hit, they take advantage of the 
dark, of privacy and secrecy ; they shoot privily. Now this is the covenant of 
hell itself. For what created power in the earth is able to dissolve that work which 
cruelty and subtlety, like Simeon and Levi, brothers in evil, are combined and con 
federate to bring to pass ? Where subtlety is ingenious, insidious to invent, cruelty 
barbarous to execute, subtlety giveth counsel, cruelty giveth the stroke. Subtlety 
ordereth the time, the place, the means, accommodateth, concinnateth circumstances ; 
cruelty undertaketh the act : subtlety hideth the knife, cruelty cutteth the throat : 
subtlety with a cunning head layeth the ambush, plotteth the train, the stratagem ; 
and cruelty with as savage a heart, sticketh not at the dreadfullest, direfullest objects, 
ready to wade up to the ankles, the neck, in a whole red sea of human, yea, country 
blood : how fearful is their plight that are thus assaulted I John King. 

Verse 3. " // the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ? " But 
now we are met with a giant objection, which with Goliath must be removed, or 
else it will obstruct our present proceedings. Is it possible that the foundations 
of religion should be destroyed ? Can God be in so long a sleep, yea, so long a 
lethargy, as patiently to permit the ruins thereof ? If he looks on, and yet doth 
not see these foundations when destroyed, where then is his omnisciency ? If he 
seeth it, and cannot help it, where then is his omnipotency ? If he seeth it, can 
help it, and will not, where then is his goodness and mercy ? Martha said to Jesus 
(John xi. 21), " Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. " But 
many will say, Were God effectually present in the world with his aforesaid attributes, 
surely the foundations had not died, had not been destroyed. We answer negatively, 
that it is impossible that the foundations of religion should ever be totally and finally 
destroyed, either in relation to the church in general, or in reference to every true 
and lively member thereof. For the first, we have an express promise of Christ. 
Matt. xvi. 18. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Fundamenta tamen 
slant inconcussa Sionis. And as for every particular Christian (2 Tim. ii. 19), 
" Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord 
knoweth them that are his." However, though for the reasons aforementioned 
in the objections (the inconsistency thereof with the attributes of God s omnipotency, 
omnisciency, and goodness), the foundations can never totally and finally, yet may 
they partially be destroyed, quoad gradum, in a fourfold degree, as followeth. First, 
m the desires and utmost endeavours of wicked men. 

They bring their -|2. Hoc agere, 

(1. Hoc velle, 

1 2. Hoc agere 

13. Totum posse. 

If they destroy not the foundations, it is no thanks to them, seeing all the world 
will bear them witness they have done their best (that is, their worst), what their 
might and malice could perform. Secondly, in their own vainglorious imaginations : 
they may not only vainly boast, but also verily believe that they have destroyed 
the foundations. Applicable to this purpose, is that high rant of the Roman 
emperor (Luke ii. 1) : " And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a 
decree from Casar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." All the world ! 
whereas he had, though much, not all in Europe, little in Asia, less in Africa, none 
in America, which was so far from being conquered, it was not so much as known 
to the Romans. But hyperbole is not a figure, but the ordinary language of pride ; 
because indeed Augustus had very much, he proclaimeth himself to have all the 
world. . . . Thirdly, the foundations may be destroyed as to all outward visible illustrious 
apparition. The church in persecution is like unto a ship in a tempest ; down 
go all their masts, yea, sometimes for the more speed they are forced to cut them 
down: not a piece of canvas to play with the winds, no sails to be seen; they 
lie close knotted to the very keel, that the tempest may have the less power upon 
them, though when the storm is over, they can hoist up their sails as high, and 
spread their canvas as broad as ever before. So the church in the time of persecut ion 


feared, but especially felt, loseth all gayness and gallantry which may attract and 
allure the eyes of beholders, and contenteth itself with its own secrecy. In a word, 
on the work-days of affliction she weareth her worst clothes, whilst her best are 
laid up in her wardobe, in sure and certain hope that God will give her a holy and 
happy day, when with joy she shall wear her best garments. Lastly they may be 
destroyed in the jealous apprehensions of the best saints and servants of God, especially 
in their melancholy fits. I will instance in no puny, but in a star of the first magni 
tude and greatest eminency, even Elijah himself complaining (1 Kings xix. 10) : 
" And I, even I only, am left ; and they seek my life, to take it away." Thomas 

Verse 3. "//." It is the only word of comfort in the text, that what is said 
is not positive, but suppositive ; not thetical, but hypothetical. And yet this comfort 
vrhich is but a spark (at which we would willingly kindle our hopes), is quickly 
sadded with a double consideration. First, impossible suppositions produce im 
possible consequences, "As is the mother, so is the daughter." Therefore, surely 
God s Holy Spirit would not suppose such a thing but what was feasible and possible, 
but what either had, did, or might come to pass. Secondly, the Hebrew word is 
not the conditional im, si, si forte, but chi, quia, quoniam, because, and (although 
here it be favourably rendered if), seemeth to import, more therein, that the sad 
case had already happened in David s days. I see, therefore, that this if, our only 
hope in the text, is likely to prove with Job s friends, but a miserable comforter. 
Well, it is good to know the worst of things, that we may provide ourselves 
accordingly ; and therefore let us behold this doleful case, not as doubtful, but as 
done ; not as feared, but felt ; not as suspected, but at this time really come to 
pass. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 3. " // the foundations," etc. My text is an answer to a tacit objection 
which some may raise ; namely, that the righteous are wanting to themselves, 
and by their own easiness and inactivity (not daring and doing so much as they 
might and ought), betray themselves to that bad condition. In whose defence 
David shows, that if God in his wise will and pleasure seeth it fitting, for reasons 
best known to himself to suffer religion to be reduced to terms of extremity, it is not 
placed in the power of the best man alive to remedy and redress the same. " // 
the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? " My text is hung about 
with mourning, as for a funeral sermon, and contains: First, a sad case sup 
posed, " // the foundations be destroyed." Secondly, a sad question propounded, 
" What can the righteous do ? " Thirdly, a sad answer implied, namely, that they 
can do just nothing, as to the point of re-establishing the destroyed foundation. 
Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 3. " // the foundations be destroyed," etc. The civil foundation of a 
nation or people, is their laws and constitutions. The order and power that s 
among them, that s the foundation of a people ; and when once this foundation 
is destroyed, " What can the righteous do ? " What can the best, the wisest in the 
world, do in such a case ? What can any man do, if there be not a foundation of 
government left among men ? There is no help nor answer in such a case but 
that which follows in the fourth verse of the Psalm, " The Lord is in his holy temple, 
the Lord s throne is in heaven : his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men ; " 
as if he had said, in the midst of these confusions, when as it is said (Psalm 
Ixxxii. 5), " All the foundations of the earth are out of course ; " yet God keeps 
his course still, he is where he was and as he was, without variableness or shadow of 
turning. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 3. " The righteous." The righteous indefinitely, equivalent to the 
righteous universally ; not only the righteous as a single arrow, but in the whole 
sheaf ; not only the righteous in their personal, but in their diffusive capacity. 
Were they all collected into one body, were all the righteous living in the same 
age wherein the foundations are destroyed, summoned up and modelled into one 
corporation, all their joint endeavours would prove ineffectual to the re-establishing 
of the fallen foundations, as not being man s work, but only God s work to perform. 
Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 3. " The foundations." Positions, the things formerly fixed, placed, 
and settled. It is not said, if the roof be ruinous, or if the side walls be shattered, 
but if the foundations. 

Verse 3. " Foundations be destroyed." In the plural. Here I will not warrant 
my skill in architecture, but conceive this may pass for an undoubted truth : it 


is possible that a building settled on several entire foundations (suppose them pillars) 
close one to another, if one of them fall, yet the structure may still stand, or rather 
hang (at the least for a short time) by virtue of the complicative, which it receiveth 
from such foundations which still stand secure. But in case there be a total rout, 
and an utter ruin of all the foundations, none can fancy to themselves a possibility 
of that building s subsistence. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 3. " What CAN the righteous ? " The can of the righteous is a limited 
can, confined to the rule of God s word ; they can do nothing but what they can 
lawfully do. 2 Cor. xiii. 8. " For we can do nothing against the truth, but for 
the truth : " Illud possumus, quod jure possumus. Wicked men can do anything ; 
their conscience, which is so wide that it is none at all, will bear them out to act 
anything how unlawful soever, to stab, poison, massacre, by any means, at any 
time, in any place, whosoever standeth betwixt them and the effecting their desires. 
Not so the righteous ; they have a rule whereby to walk, which they will not, they 
must not, they dare not, cross. If therefore a righteous man were assured, that 
by the breach of one of God s commandments he might restore decayed religion, 
and re-settle it statu quo prius, his hands, head, and heart are tied up, he can do 
nothing, because their damnation is just who say (Rom. iii. 8), " Let us do evil that 
good may come thereof." 

Verse 3." Do." It is not said, What can they think ? It is a great blessing 
which God hath allowed injured people, that though otherwise oppressed and 
straitened, they may freely enlarge themselves in their thoughts. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 3. Sinning times have ever been the saints praying times : this sent 
Ezra with a heavy heart to confess the sin of his people, and to bewail their 
abominations before the Lord. Ezra ix. And Jeremiah tells the wicked of his 
degenerate age, that " his soul should weep in secret places for their pride." Jer. 
xiii. 17. Indeed, sometimes sin comes to such a height, that this is almost all the 
godly can do, to get into a corner, and bewail the general pollutions of the age. 
" // the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ? " Such dismal days of 
national confusion our eyes have seen,when foundations of government were destroyed, 
and all hurled into military confusion. When it is thus with a people, " What can 
the righteous do ? " Yes, this they may, and should do, " fast and pray." There 
is yet a God in heaven to be sought to, when a people s deliverance is thrown beyond 
the help of human policy or power. Now is the fit time to make their appeal to 
God, as the words following hint : " The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord s Ihrone 
is in heaven ; " in which words God is presented sitting in heaven as a temple, for 
their encouragement, I conceive, in such a desperate state of affairs, to direct their 
prayers thither for deliverance. And certainly this hath been the engine that 
hath been instrumental, above any, to restore this poor nation again, and set it 
upon the foundation of thai lawful government from which it had so dangerously 
departed. William Gurnall. 

Verse 4. The infinite understanding of God doth exactly know the sins of 
men ; he knows so as to consider. He doth not only know them, but intently 
behold them : " His eyelids try the children of men," a metaphor taken from men, 
that contract the eyelids when they would wistly and accurately behold a thing : 
it is not a transient and careless look. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 4. " His eyes behold," etc. God searcheth not as man searcheth, by 
enquiring into that which before was hid from him ; his searching is no more but 
his beholding ; he seeth the heart, he beholdeth the reins ; God s very sight is 
searching. Heb. iv. 13. " All things are naked and opened unto his eyes," 
nrpax^ff^a, dissected or anatomised. He hath at once as exact a view of the most 
hidden things, the very entrails of the soul, as if they had been with never so great 
curiosity anatomised before him. Richard Alleine, 1611 1681. 

Verse 4. " His eyes behold," etc. Consider that God not only sees into all 
you do, but he sees it to that very end that he may examine and search into it. 
He doth not only behold you with a common and indifferent look, but with a 
searching, watchful, and inquisitive eye : he pries into the reasons, the motives, 
the ends of all your actions. " The Lord s throne is in heaven : his eyes behold, 
his eyelids try, the children of men." Rev. i. 14, where Christ is described, it is said, 
A is eyes are as a flame of fire : you know the property of fire is to search and make 
trial of those things which are exposed unto it, and to separate the dross from the 
pure metal : so, God s eye is like fire, to try and examine the actions of men : he 


knows and discerns how much your very purest duties have in them of mixture, 
and base ends of formality, hypocrisy, distractedness, and deadness : he sees through 
all your specious pretences, that which you cast as a mist before the eyes of men 
when yet thou art but a juggler in religion : all your tricks and sleights of outward 
profession, all those things that you use to cozen and delude men withal, cannot 
possibly impose upon him : he is a God that can look through all those fig-leaves of 
outward profession, and discern the nakedness of your duties through them. 
Ezekiel Hopkins, D.D. 

" Verse 4. " His eyes behold," etc. Take God into thy counsel. Heaven over 
looks hell. God at any time can tell thee what plots are hatching there against 
thee. William Gurnall. 

Verse 4. " His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men." When an 
offender, or one accused for any offence, is brought before a judge, and stands at 
the bar to be arraigned, the judge looks upon him, eyes him, sets his eye upon him, 
and he bids the offender look up in his face ; " Look upon me," saith the judge, 
" and speak up : " guiltiness usually clouds the forehead and clothes the brow ; 
the weight of guilt holds down the head ! the evil doer hath an ill look, or dares not 
look up ; how glad is he if the judge looks off him. We have such an expression 
here, speaking of the Lord, the great Judge of heaven and earth : " His eyelids 
try the children of men," as a judge tries a guilty person with his eye and reads the 
characters of his wickedness printed in his face. Hence we have a common speech 
in our language, such a one looks suspiciously, or, he hath a guilty look. At that 
great gaol-delivery described in Rev. vi. 16, All the prisoners cry out to be hid from 
the face of him that sat upon the throne. They could not look upon Christ, and they 
could not endure Christ should look on them ; the eyelids of Christ try the children 
of men. . . . Wickedness cannot endure to be under the observation of any eye, 
much less of the eye of justice. Hence the actors of it say, " Who seeth us ? " It 
is very hard not to show the guilt of the heart in the face, and it is as hard to have 
it seen there. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 5. " The Lord trieth the righteous." Except our sins, there is not such 
plenty of anything in all the world as there is of troubles which come from sin, 
as one heavy messenger came to Job after another. Since we are not in para 
dise, but in the wilderness, we must look for one trouble after another. As a bear 
came to David after a lion, and a giant after a bear, and a king after a giant, and 
Philistines after a king, so, when believers have fought with poverty, they shall 
fight with envy ; when they have fought with envy, they shall fight with infamy ; 
when they have fought with infamy, they shall fight with sickness ; they shall 
be like a labourer who is never out of work. Henry Smith. 

Verse 5. " The Lord trieth the righteous." Times of affliction and persecution 
will distinguish the precious from the vile, it will difference the counterfeit professor 
from the true. Persecution is a Christian s touchstone, it is a lapis lydius that 
will try what metal men are made of, whether they be silver or tin, gold or dross, 
wheat or chaff, shadow or substance, carnal or spiritual, sincere or hypocritical. 
Nothing speaks out more soundness and uprightness than a pursuing after holiness, 
even then when holiness is most afflicted, pursued, and persecuted in the world : 
to stand fast in fiery trials argues much integrity within. Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 5. Note the singular opposition of the two sentences. God hates the 
wicked, and therefore in contrast he loves the righteous ; but it is here said that 
he tries them : therefore it follows that to try and to love are with God the same 
thing. C. H. S. 

Verse 6. " Upon the wicked he shall rain snares." Snares to hold them ; then 
if they be not delivered, follow fire and brimstone, and they cannot escape. This 
is the case of a sinner if he repent not ; if God pardon not, he is in the snare of 
Satan s temptation, he is in the snare of divine vengeance ; let him therefore cry 
aloud for his deliverance, that he may have his feet in a large room. The wicked 
lay snares for the righteous, but God either preventeth them that their souls ever 
escape them, or else he subventeth them : " The snares are broken, and we are 
delivered." No snares hold us so fast as those of our own sins ; they keep down 
our heads, and stoop us that we cannot look up : a very little ease they are to him 
that hath not a seared conscience. Samuel Page, 1646. 

Verse 6. " He shall rain snares." As in hunting with the lasso, the huntsman 


casts a snare from above upon his prey to entangle its head or feet, so shall the Lord 
from above with many twistings of the line of terror, surround, bind, and take 
captive the haters of his law. C. //. S. 

Verse 6. " He shall rain snares," etc. He shall rain upon them when they 
least think of it even in the midst of their jollity, as rain falls on a fair day. Or, 
he shall rain down the vengeance when he sees good, for it rains not always. Though 
he defers it, yet will it rain. William Nicholson, Bishop of Gloucester, in "David s 
Harp Strung and Tuned," 1662. 

Verse 6. " Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an 
horrible tempest." The strange dispensation of affairs in this world is an argument 
which doth convincingly prove that there shall be such a day wherein all the involucra 
and entanglements of providence shall be clearly unfolded. Then shall the riddle 
be dissolved, why God hath given this and that profane wretch so much wealth, 
and so much power to do mischief : is it not that they might be destroyed for ever ? 
Then shall they be called to a strict account for all that plenty and prosperity for 
which they are now envied ; and the more they have abused, the more dreadful 
will their condemnation be. Then it will be seen that God gave them not as mercies, 
but as " snares." It is said that God " will rain on the wicked snares, fire and 
brimstone, and an horrible tempest : " when he scatters abroad the desirable things 
of this world, riches, honours, pleasures, etc., then he rains " snares " upon them ; 
and when he shall call them to an account for these things, then he will rain upon 
them " fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest " of his wrath and fury. Dives, 
who caroused on earth, yet, in hell could not obtain so much as one poor drop of 
water to cool his scorched and flaming tongue : had not his excess and intemperance 
been so great in his life, his fiery thirst had not been so tormenting after death ; 
and therefore, in that sad item that Abraham gives him (Luke xvi. 25), he bids him 
" remember, that thou, in thy lifetime, receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus 
evil things ; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." I look upon this 
as a most bitter and a most deserved sarcasm ; upbraiding him for his gross folly, 
in making the trifles of this life his good things. Thou hast received thy good things, 
but now thou art tormented. Oh, never call Dives s purple and delicious fare 
good things, if they thus end in torments ! Was it good for him to be wrapped 
in purple who is now wrapped in flames ? Was it good for him to fare deliciously 
who was only thereby fatted up against the day of slaughter ? Ezekiel Hopkins. 

Verse 6. " Snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest : this shall be the portion 
of their cup." After the judgment follows the condemnation : pre-figured as we 
have seen, by the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. " Snares : " because the 
allurements of Satan in this life will be their worst punishments in the next ; the 
fire of anger, the brimstone of impurity, the tempest of pride, the lust of the flesh, 
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. " This shall be their portion ; " compare 
it with the Psalmist s own saying, " The Lord himself is the portion of my in 
heritance and my cup." Psalm xvi. 5. Cassiodorus, in J. M. Neale s Commentary. 

Verse 6. " The portion of their cup." Heb., the allotment of their cup. The 
expression has reference to the custom of distributing to each guest his mess of 
mea t. William French and George Skinner, 1842. 

Verse 7. That God may give grace without glory is intelligible ; but to admit 
a man to communion with him in glory without grace, is not intelligible. It is 
not agreeable to God s holiness to make any inhabitant of heaven, and converse 
freely with him in a way of intimate love, without such a qualification of grace : 
" The righteous Lord loveth righteousness ; his countenance doth behold the upright ; " 
he looks upon him with a smiling eye, and therefore he cannot favourably look 
upon an unrighteous person ; so that this necessity is not founded only in the 
command of God that we should be renewed, but in the very nature of the thing, 
because God, in regard of his holiness, cannot converse with an impure creature. 
God must change his nature, or the sinner s nature must be changed. There can 
be no friendly communion between two of different natures without the change 
of one of them into the likeness of the other. Wolves and sheep, darkness and 
light, can never agree. God cannot love a sinner as a sinner, because he hates 
impurity by a necessity of nature as well as a choice of will. It is as impossible 
for him to love it as to cease to be holy. Stephen Charnock. 



Verse 1. Faiths bold avowal, and brave refusal. 

Verse 1. Teacheth us to trust in God, how great soever our dangers be ; also 
that we shall be many times assaulted to make us put far from us this trust, but 
yet that we must cleave unto it, as the anchor of our souls, sure and steadfast. 
Thomas Wilcocks. 

Verse 1. The advice of cowardice, and the jeer of insolence, both answered 
by faith. Lesson Attempt no other answer. 

Verse 2. The craftiness of our spiritual enemies. 

Verse 3. This may furnish a double discourse. I. // God s oath and promise 
could remove, what could we do ? Here the answer is easy. II. // all earthly things 
fail, and the very State fall to pieces, what can we do ? We can suffer joyfully, 
hope cheerfully, wait patiently, pray earnestly, believe confidently, and triumph 

Verse 3. Necessity of holding and preaching foundation truths. 

Verse 4. The elevation, mystery, supremacy, purity, everlastingness, invisi 
bility, etc., of the throne of God. 

Verses 4, 5. In these verses mark the fact that the children of men, as well 
as the righteous, are tried ; work out the contrast between the two trials in their 
design and result, etc. 

Verse 5." The Lord trieth the righteous." I. Who are tried ? II. What in 
them is tried ? Faith, love, etc. III. In what manner ? Trials of every sort. 
IV. How long ? V. For what purposes ? 

Verse 5. " His soul hateth." The thoroughness of God s hatred of sin. Illus 
trate by providential judgments, threatenings, sufferings of the Surety, and tb 
terrors of hell. 

Verse 5. The trying of the gold, and the sweeping out of the refuse. 

Verse 6. " He shall rain." Gracious rain and destroying rain. 

Verse 6. The portion of the impenitent. 

Verse 7. The Lord possesses righteousness as a personal attribute, loves it 
in the abstract, and blesses those who practise it. 


TITLE. This Psalm is headed, " To the Chief Musician upon Sheminith, a Psalm 
of David," which title is identical with that of the sixth Psalm, except that Neginoth 
is here omitted. We have nothing new to add, and therefore refer the reader to our 
remarks on the dedication of Psalm VI. As Sheminith signifies the eight, the Arabic 
version says it is concerning the end of the world, which shall be the eighth day, and refers 
it to the coming of the Messiah : without accepting so fanciful an interpretation, we 
may read this song of complaining faith in the light of His coming who shall break 
in pieces the oppressor. The subject will be the better before the mind s eye if we entitle 
this Psalm : " GOOD THOUGHTS IN BAD TIMES." It is supposed to have been written 
while Saul was persecuting David, and those who favoured his cause. 

DIVISION. In the first and second verses David spreads his plaint before the Lord 
concerning the treachery of his age ; verses 3 and 4 denounce judgments upon proud 
traitors ; in verse 5, Jehovah himself thunders out his wrath against oppressors ; 
hearing this, the Chief Musician sings sweetly of the faithfulness of God and his care 
of his people, in verses 6 and 1 ; but closes on the old key of lament in verse 8, as he 
observes the abounding wickedness of his times. Those holy souls who dwell in Mesech, 
and sojourn in the tents of Kedar, may read and sing these sacred stanzas with hearts 
in full accord with their mingled melody of lowly mourning and lofty confidence. 


T-IELP, LORD ; for the godly man ceaseth ; for the faithful fail from among 
* * the children of men. 

2 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour : with nattering lips 
and with a double heart do they speak. 

" Help, Lord." A short, but sweet, suggestive, seasonable, and serviceable 
prayer ; a kind of angel s sword, to be turned every way, and to be used on all 
occasions. Ainsworth says the word rendered " help," is largely used for all manner 
of saving, helping, delivering, preserving, etc. Thus it seems that the prayer is 
very full and instructive. The Psalmist sees the extreme danger of his position, 
for a man had better be among lions than among liars ; he feels his own inability 
to deal with such sons of Belial, for " he who shall touch them must be fenced with 
iron ; " he therefore turns himself to his all-sufficient Helper, the Lord, whose help 
is never denied to his servants, and whose aid is enough for all their needs. " Help, 
Lord," is a very useful ejaculation which we may dart up to heaven on occasions 
of emergency, whether in labour, learning, suffering, fighting, living, or dying. 
As small ships can sail into harbours which larger vessels, drawing more water, 
cannot enter, so our brief cries and short petitions may trade with heaven when 
our soul is wind-bound, and business-bound, as to longer exercises of devotion, 
and when the stream of grace seems at too low an ebb to float a more laborious 
supplication. " For the godly man ceaseth ; " the death, departure, or decline 
of godly men should be a trumpet-call for more prayer. They say that fish smell 
first at the head, and when godly men decay, the whole commonwealth will soon 
go rotten. We must not, however, be rash in our judgment on this point, for Elijah 
erred in counting himself the only servant of God alive, when there were thousands 
whom the Lord held in reserve. The present times always appear to be peculiarly 
dangerous, because they are nearest to our anxious gaze, and whatever evils are 
rife are sure to be observed, while the faults of past ages are further off, and are 
more easily overlooked. Yet we expect that in the latter days, " because iniquity 
shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold," and then we must the more 
thoroughly turn from man, and address ourselves to the Churches Lord, by whose 
help the gates of hell shall be kept from prevailing against us. " The faithful fail 
from among the children of men ; " when godliness goes, faithfulness inevitably 
follows ; without fear of God, men have no love of truth. Common honesty is 
BO longer common, when common irreligion leads to universal godlessness. David 


had his eyes on Doeg, and the men of Ziph and Keilah, and perhaps remembered 
the murdered priests of Nob, and the many banished ones who consorted with 
him in the cave of Adullam, and wondered where the state would drift without 
the anchors of its godly and faithful men. David, amid the general misrule, did 
not betake himself to seditious plottings, but to solemn petitionings ; nor did he 
join with the multitude to do evil, but took up the arms of prayer to withstand 
their attacks upon virtue. 

" They speak vanity every one with his neighbour." They utter that which is 
vain to hear, because of its frivolous, foolish, want of worth ; vain to believe, because 
it was false and lying ; vain to trust to, since it was deceitful and flattering ; vain 
to regard, for it lifted up the hearer, filling him with proud conceit of himself. It 
is a sad thing when it is the fashion to talk vanity. " Ca me, and I ll ca thee," 
is the old Scotch proverb ; give me a high-sounding character, and I will give you 
one. Compliments and fawning congratulations are hateful to honest men ; they 
know that if they take they must give them, and they scorn to do either. These 
accommodation-bills are most admired by those who are bankrupt in character. 
Bad are the times when every man thus cajoles and cozens his neighbour. " With 
flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak." He who puffs up another s 
heart, has nothing better than wind in his own. If a man extols me to my face, 
he only shows me one side of his heart, and the other is black with contempt for 
me, or foul with intent to cheat me. Flattery is the sign of the tavern where 
duplicity is the host. The Chinese consider a man of two hearts to be a very base 
man, and we shall be safe in reckoning all flatterers to be such. 

3 The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh 
proud things : 

4 Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail ; our lips are our own : 
who is lord over us ? 

Total destruction shall overwhelm the lovers of flattery and pride, but mean 
while how they hector and fume ! Well did the apostle call them " raging 
waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame." Free-thinkers are generally 
very free-talkers, and they are never more at ease than when railing at God s 
dominion, and arrogating to themselves unbounded license. Strange is it that 
the easy yoke of the Lord should so gall the shoulders of the proud, while the iron 
bands of Satan they bind about themselves as chains of honour : they boastfully 
cry unto God, " Who is lord over us ? " and hear not the hollow voice of the evil 
one, who cries from the infernal lake, " I am your lord, and right faithfully do ye 
serve me." Alas, poor fools, their pride and glory shall be cut off like a fading 
flower ! May God grant that our soul may not be gathered with them. It is worthy 
of observation that flattering lips, and tongues speaking proud things, are classed 
together : the fitness of this is clear, for they are guilty of the same vice, the first 
flatters another, and the second flatters himself, in both cases a lie is in their right 
hands. One generally imagines that flatterers are such mean parasites, so cringing 
and fawning, that they cannot be proud ; but the wise man will tell you that while 
all pride is truly meanness, there is in the very lowest meanness no small degree 
of pride. Caesar s horse is even more proud of carrying Caesar, than Caesar is of 
riding him. The mat on which the emperor wiped his shoes, boasts vaingloriously, 
crying out, " I cleaned the imperial boots." None are so detestably domineering 
as the little creatures who creep into office by cringing to the great ; those are 
bad times, indeed, in which these obnoxious beings are numerous and powerful. 
No wonder that the justice of God in cutting off such injurious persons is matter 
for a Psalm, for both earth and heaven are weary of such provoking offenders, 
whose presence is a very plague to the people afflicted thereby. Men cannot tame 
the tongues of such boastful flatterers ; but the Lord s remedy if sharp is sure, 
and is an unanswerable answer to their swelling words of vanity. 

5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will 
I arise, saith the LORD ; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. 

In due season the Lord will hear his elect ones, who cry day and night unto 
him, and though he bear long with their oppressors, yet will he avenge them speedily. 
Observe that the mere oppression of saints, however silently they bear it, is in 


itself a cry to God : Moses was heard at the Red Sea, though he said nothing ; 
and Hagar s affliction was heard despite her silence. Jesus feels with his people, 
and their smarts are mighty orators with him. By-and-by, however, they begin 
to sigh and express their misery, and then relief comes post-haste. Nothing moves 
a father like the cries of his children ; he bestirs himself, wakes up his manhood, 
overthrows the enemy, and sets his beloved in safety. A puff is too much for the 
child to bear, and the foe is so haughty, that he laughs the little one to scorn ; but 
the Father comes, and then it is the child s turn to laugh, when he is set above 
the rage of his tormentor. What virtue is there in a poor man s sighs, that they 
should move the Almighty God to arise from his throne. The needy did not dare 
to speak, and could only sigh in secret, but the Lord heard, and could rest no longer, 
but girded on his sword for the battle. It is a fair day when our soul brings God 
into her quarrel, for when his bare arm is seen, Philistia shall rue the day. The 
darkest hours of the Church s night are those which precede the break of day. 
Man s extremity is God s opportunity. Jesus will come to deliver just when his 
needy ones shall sigh, as if all hope had gone for ever. O Lord, set thy now near 
at hand, and rise up speedily to our help. Should the afflicted reader be able to 
lay hold upon the promise of this verse, let him gratefully fetch a fulness of comfort 
from it. Gurnal says, "As one may draw out the wine of a whole hogshead at one 
tap, so may a poor soul derive the comfort of the whole covenant to himself through 
one promise, if he be able to apply it." He who promises to set us in safety, means 
thereby preservation on earth, and eternal salvation in heaven. 

6 The words of the LORD are pure words : as silver tried in a furnace of 
earth, purified seven times. 

7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this 
generation for ever. 

Verse 6. What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words 
of Jehovah. Man s words are yea and nay, but the Lord s promises are yea and 
amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure 
as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely- 
purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when 
the greatest possible purity was desired ; the dross was all consumed, and only the 
bright and precious metal remained ; so clear and free from all alloy of error or 
unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through 
the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific 
discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to 
it as alloy to precious>re. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable 
manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive 
heat. What God s words are, the words of his children should be. If we would 
be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest 
purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications. 

7. To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, 
or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure ; but it 
is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a 
hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter 
future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present : he has gone to his grave 
unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo 1 as generations come and go, upon a 
sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent 
of the earth ; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a 
sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that 
we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand 
out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which 
roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our 
faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, " Thou shalt," " thou shalt." 

8 The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted. 

8. Here we return to the fount of bitterness, which first made the Psalmist run 
to the wells of salvation, namely, the prevalence of wickedness. When those in 
power are vile, their underlings will be no better. As a warm sun brings out noxious 
flies, so does a sinner in honour foster vice everywhere. Our turf would not so 
swarm with abominables if those who are styled honourables did not give their 


countenance to the craft. Would to God that the glory and triumph of our Lord 
Jesus would encourage us to walk and work on every side ; as like acts upon like, 
since an exalted sinner encourages sinners, our exalted Redeemer must surely 
excite, cheer, and stimulate his saints. Nerved by a sight of his reigning power 
we shall meet the evils of the times in the spirit of holy resolution, and shall the 
more hopefully pray, " Help, Lord." 


Verse 1. " Help, Lord." Twas high time to call to heaven for help, when 
Saul cried, " Go, kill me up the priests of Jehovah" (the occasion as it is thought 
of making this Psalm), and therein committed the sin against the Holy, as some 
grave divines are of opinion. 1 Sam. xxii. 17. David, after many sad thoughts 
about that slaughter, and the occasion of it, Doeg s malicious information, together 
with the paucity of his fast friends, and the multitude of his sworn enemies at court, 
breaks forth abruptly into these words, " Help Lord," help at a dead lift. The Arabic 
version hath it, Deliver me by main force, as with weapons of war, for " the Lord 
is a man of war." Ex. xv. 3. John. Trapp. 

Verse 1. " The faithful." " A faithful man," as a parent, a reprover, an adviser, 
one " without guile," " who can find ? " Prov. xx. 6. Look close. View thyself 
in the glass of the word. Does thy neighbour or thy friend, find thee faithful to 
him ? What does our daily intercourse witness ? Is not the attempt to speak 
what is agreeable oft made at the expense of truth ? Are not professions of regard 
sometimes utterly inconsistent with our real feelings ? In common life, where 
gross violations are restrained, a thousand petty offences are allowed, that break 
down the wall between sin and duty, and, judged by the divine standard, are indeed 
guilty steps upon forbidden ground. Charles Bridges, 1850. 

Verse 1. A "faithful" man must be, first of all, faithful to himself; then, 
he must be faithful to God ; and then, he must be faithful to others, particularly 
the church of God. And this, as it regards ministers, is of peculiar importance. 
Joseph Irons, 1840. 

Verse 1. Evea as a careful mother, seeing her child in the way when a company 
of unruly horses run through the streets in full career, presently whips up her child 
in her arms and taketh him home ; or as the hen, seeing the ravenous kite over her 
head, clucks and gathers her chickens under her wings ; even so when God hath a 
purpose to bring a heavy calamity upon a land, it hath been usual with him to 
call and cull out to himself, such as are his dearly beloved. He takes his choice 
servants from the evil to come. Thus was Augustine removed a little before Hippo 
(wherein he dwelt) was taken ; Parceus died before Heidelburg was sacked ; and 
Luther was taken off before Germany was overrun with war and bloodshed. Ed. 
Dunsterville in a Sermon at the Funeral of Sir Sim. Harcourt, 1642. 

Verse 1. " Help, Lord ; for the godly man ceaseth," etc. : 

Back then, complainer, loathe thy life no more, 
Nor deem thyself upon a desert shore. 

Because the rocks the nearer prospect close. 
Yet in fallen Israel are there hearts and eyes, 
That day by day in prayer like thine arise ; 

Thou knowest them not, but their Creator known. 
Go, to the world return, nor fear to cast 
Thy bread upon the waters, sure at last 

In joy to find it after many days. 

John Keble, 17921866. 

Verses 1, 2, 4. Consider our markets, our fairs, our private contracts and 
bargains, our shops, our cellars, our weights, our measures, our promises, our pro 
testations, our politic tricks and villanous Machiavelism, our enhancing of the 
prices of all commodities, and tell, whether the twelfth Psalm may not as fitly be 
applied to our times as to the days of the man of God ; in which the feigning, and 
lying, and facing, and guile, and subtlety of men provoked the psalmist to cry out, 


" Help, Lord ; for there is not a godly man left : for the faithful are failed from among 
the children of men : they speak deceitfully every one with his neighbour, flattering 
with their lips, and speak with a double heart, which have said, With our tongue we 
will prevail ; our lips are our own : who is Lord over us ? " R. Wolcombe. 1612. 

Verse 2. " They speak vanity every one with his neighbour : with flattering 
lips and with a double heart do they speak." The feigned zeal is just like a water 
man, that looks one way and rows another way ; for this man pretends one thing 
and intends another thing ; as Jehu pretended the zeal of God s glory, but his aim 
was at his master s kingdom ; and his zeal to God s service was but to bring him 
to the sceptre of the kingdom. So Demetrius professed great love unto Diana, 
but his drift was to maintain the honour of his profession ; and so we have too 
many that make great show of holiness, and yet their hearts aim at other ends ; 
but they may be sure, though they can deceive the world and destroy themselves, 
yet not God, who knoweth the secrets of all hearts. Gr. Williams, 1636. 

Verse 2. " They speak vanity." 

Faithless is earth, and faithless are the skies ! 
Justice is fled, and truth is now no more ! 

Virgil s JEneid, IV. 373. 

Verse 2. " With a double heart." Man is nothing but insincerity, falsehood, 
and hypocrisy, both in regard to himself and in regard to others. He does not 
wish that he should be told the truth, he shuns saying it to others ; and all these 
moods, so inconsistent with justice and reason, have their roots in his heart. 
Blaise Pascal. 

Verse 2. " With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak." There 
is no such stuff to make a cloak of as religion ; nothing so fashionable, nothing 
so profitable : it is a livery wherein a wise man may serve two masters, God and 
the world, and make a gainful service by either. I serve both, and in both myself, 
by prevaricating with both. Before man none serves his God with more severe 
devotion : for which, among the best of men, I work my own ends, and serve myself. 
In private, I serve the world ; not with so strict devotion, but with more delight ; 
where fulfilling of her servants lusts, I work my end and serve myself. The house 
of prayer who more frequents than I ? In all Christian duties who more forward 
than I ? I fast with those that fast, that I may eat with those that eat. I mourn 
with those that mourn. No hand more open to the cause than mine, and in their 
families none prays longer and with louder zeal. Thus when the opinion of a holy 
life hath cried the goodness of my conscience up, my trade can lack no custom, 
my wares can want no price, my words can need no credit, my actions can lack 
no praise. If I am covetous it is interpreted providence ; if miserable, it is counted 
temperance ; if melancholy, it is construed godly sorrow ; if merry, it is voted 
spiritual joy ; if I be rich, it is thought the blessing of a godly life ; if poor, supposed 
the fruit of conscionable dealing ; if I be well spoken of, it is the merit of holy 
conversation ; if ill, it is the malice of malignants. Thus I sail with every wind, 
and have my end in all conditions. This cloak in summer keeps me cool, in winter 
warm, and hides the nasty bag of all my secret lusts. Under this cloak I walk in 
public fairly with applause, and in private sin securely without offence, and officiate 
wisely without discovery. I compass sea and land to make a proselyte ; and 
no sooner made, but he makes me. At a fast I cry Geneva, and at a feast I cry 
Rome If I be poor, I counterfeit abundance to save my credit ; if rich, I dissemble 
poverty to save charges. I most frequent schismatical lectures, which I find most 
profitable ; from thence learning to divulge and maintain new doctrines ; they 
maintain me in suppers thrice a week. I use the help of a lie sometimes, as a new 
stratagem to uphold the gospel ; and I colour oppression with God s judgments 
executed upon the wicked. Charity I hold an extraordinary duty, therefore not 
ordinarily to be performed. What I openly reprove abroad, for my own profit, 
that I secretly act at home, for my own pleasure. But stay, I see a handwriting 
in my heart which damps my soul. It is charactered in these said words, " \Voe 
be to you, hypocrites." Matt, xxiii. 13. Francis Quarles "Hypocrite s Soliloquy." 

Verse 2. " With flattering lips," etc. The world indeed says that society could 
not exist if there were perfect truthfulness and candour between man and man ; 
and that the world s propriety would be as much disturbed if every man said what 
he pleased, as it was in those days of Israelitish history, when every man did that 



which was right in his own eyes. The world is assuredly the best judge of its own 
condition and mode of government, and therefore I will not say what a libel does 
such a remark contain, but oh, what a picture does it present of the social edifice, 
that its walls can be cemented and kept together only by flattery and falsehood. 
Barton Bouchier. 

Verse 2. " Flattering lips." The philosopher Bion being asked what animal 
he thought the most hurtful, replied, " That of wild creatures a tyrant, and of 
tame ones a flatterer." The flatterer is the most dangerous enemy we can have. 
Raleigh, himself a courtier, and therefore initiated into the whole art of flattery, 
who discovered in his own career and fate its dangerous and deceptive power, its 
deep artifice and deeper falsehood, says, " A flatterer is said to be a beast that 
biteth smiling. But it is hard to know them from friends they are so obsequious 
and full of protestations ; for, as a wolf resembles a dog, so doth a flatterer a friend." 
The Book of Symbols, 1844. 

Verse 2. " They speak with a double heart." The original is, " A heart and a 
heart : " one for the church, another for the change ; one for Sundays, another 
for working-days ; one for the king, another for the pope. A man without a heart 
is a wonder, but a man with two hearts is a monster. It is said of Judas " There 
were many hearts in one man ;" and we read of the saints, "There was one heart 
in many men." Acts. iv. 32. Dabo illis cor unum ; a special blessing. Thomas 

Verse 2. When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find 
them so to each other will be much disappointed. The primitive sincerity will 
accompany the primitive piety in her flight from the earth ; and then interest 
will succeed conscience in the regulation of human conduct, till one man cannot 
trust another farther than he holds him by that tie. Hence, by the way, it is, 
that though many are infidels themselves, yet few choose to have their families 
and dependants such ; as judging, and rightly judging, that true Christians are 
the only persons to be depended on for the exact discharge of social duties. George 

Verse 3. "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips," etc. They who take pleasure 
in deceiving others, will at the last find themselves most of all deceived, when the 
Sun of truth, by the brightness of his rising, shall at once detect and consume 
hypocrisy. George Home. 

Verse 3. " Cut off lips and tongues." May there not be here an allusion to 
those terrible but suggestive punishments which Oriental monarchs were wont 
to execute on criminals ? Lips were cut off and tongues torn out when offenders 
were convicted of lying or treason. So terrible and infinitely more so are the punish 
ments of sin. C. H. S. 

Verses 3, 4. It need not now seem strange to tell you that the Lord is the owner 
of our bodies, that he has so much propriety therein that they are more his than 
ours. The apostle tells us as much. 1 Cor. vi. 20. " Glorify God in your bodies 
which are his." Our bodies and every member thereof, are his : for if the whole 
be so, no part is exempted. And therefore they spake proud things, and pre 
sumptuously usurped the propriety of God, who said, " Our lips are our own ; " 
as though their lips had not been his who is Lord and Owner of all, but they had 
been lords thereof, and might have used them as they list. This provoked God to 
show what right he had to dispose of such lips and tongues, by cutting them off. 
David Clark son. 

Verse 4. " Who have said, With our tongues will we prevail ; who is Lord over 
us ? " So it was : twelve poor and unlearned men on the one side, all the eloquence 
of Greece and Rome arrayed on the other. From the time of Tertullus to that of 
Julian the apostate, every species of oratory, learning, wit, was lavished against 
the church of God ; and the result, like the well-known story of that dispute between 
the Christian peasant and the heathen philosopher, when the latter, having challenged 
the assembled fathers of a synod to silence him, was put to shame by the simple 
faith of the former " In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be 
dumb." Who is Lord over us ? " Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice 
to let Israel go ? " Ex. v. 2. " What is the Almighty, that we should serve him ? " 
Job. xxi. 15. " Who is that God that shall deliver you ? " Dan. iii. 15. Michael 
Ayguan, in J. M. Neale s Commentary. 


Verse 4. " Our lips are oar own." If we have to do with God, we must quit 
claim to ourselves and look on God as our owner ; but this is fixed in the hearts of 
men, We will be our own ; we will not consent to the claim which God makes to 
us : " Our lips are our own." Wicked men might as well say the same thing of 
their whole selves ; our bodies, strength, time, parts, etc., are our own, and who is 
Lord over us ? John Howe. 

Verse 4. From the faults of the wicked we must learn three contrary lessons ; 
to wit : 1. That nothing which we have is our own. But, 2. Whatsoever is given 
to us of God is for service to be done to him. 3. That whatsoever we do or say, 
we have a Lord over us to whom we must be answerable when he calleth us to 
account. David Dickson. 

Verse 5. " For the oppression of the poor," etc. When oppressors and persecutors 
do snuff and puff at the people of God, when they defy them, and scorn them, and 
think that they can with a blast of their breath blow them away, then God will 
arise to judgment, as the Chaldee has it ; at that very nick of time when all seems 
to be lost, and when the poor, oppressed, and afllicted people of God can do nothing 
but sigh and weep, and weep and sigh, then the Lord will arise and ease them of 
their oppressions, and make their day of extremity a glorious opportunity to work 
for his own glory and his people s good. Matt. xxii. 6, 7. " And the remnant 
took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the 
king heard thereof, he was wroth : and he sent forth his armies and destroyed 
those murderers, and burned up their city." Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 5. Fear ye, whosoever ye be, that do wrong the poor ; you have power 
and wealth, and the favour of the judges, but they have the strongest weapons 
of all, sighings and groanings, which fetch help from heaven for them. These 
weapons dig down houses, throw up foundations, overthrow whole nations. 

Verse 5. " For the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord." God 
is pleased to take notice of every grace, even the least and lowest, and every gracious 
inclination in any of his servants. To fear his name is no great matter, yet these 
have a promise. To think on his name less, yet set down in a " book of remembrance." 
God sets down how many good thoughts a poor soul hath had. As evil thoughts in 
wicked men are taken notice of they are the first fruits of the evil heart (Matt. 
xv. 19) so good thoughts are they which lie uppermost, and best discover a good 
heart. A desire is a small matter, especially of the poor man, yet God regards the 
desire of the poor, and calls a good desire the greatest kindness ; " The desire of 
a man is his kindness." A tear makes no great noise, yet hath a voice, " God hath 
heard the voice of my weeping." It is no pleasant water, yet God bottles it up. 
A groan is a poor thing, yet is the best part of a prayer sometimes (Rom. viii. 26) ; 
a sigh is less, yet God is awakened and raised up by it. Psalm xii. 5. A look is less 
than all these, yet this is regarded (Jonah ii. 4) ; breathing is less, yet (Lam. iii. 56), 
the church could speak of no more ; panting is less than breathing, when one is 
spent for lack of breath, yet this is all the godly can sometimes boast of. Psalm 
xlii. 1. The description of a godly man is ofttimes made from his least quod sic. 
Blessed are the poor, the meek, they that mourn, and they who hunger and thirst. 
Never did Hannah pray better than when she could get out never a word, but cried, 
" Hard, hard heart." Nor did the publican, than when he smote his breast and 
cried, " Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." Nor Mary Magdalene, than when she 
came behind Christ, sat down, wept, but kept silence. How sweet is music upon 
the waters ! How fruitful are the lowest valleys I Mourning hearts are most 
musical, lowest most fruitful. The good shepherd ever takes most care of his weak 
lambs and feeble sheep. The father makes most of the least, and the mother looks 
most after the sick child. How comfortable is that of our Saviour, " It is not 
the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish ! " 
And that heaven is not to be entered but by such as are like the little child. John 
Sheffield, 1654. 

Verse 5. " The oppression of the poor." Insolent and cruel oppressing of the 
poor is a sin that brings desolating and destroying judgments upon a people. God 
sent ten wasting judgments one after another upon Pharaoh, his people, and land, 
to revenge the cruel oppression of his poor people. " Rob not the poor, because 
he is poor : neither oppress the afflicted in the gate : for the Lord will plead their 
cause." Prov. xxii. 22, 23. To rob and oppress the rich is a great sin ; but to 


rob and oppress the poor is a greater ; but to rob and oppress the poor because 
he is poor, and wants money to buy justice, is the top of all inhumanity and impiety. 
To oppress any one is sin ; but to oppress the oppressed is the height of sin. Poverty, 
and want, and misery, should be motives to pity ; but oppressors make them the 
whetstones of their cruelty and severity, and therefore the Lord will plead the cause 
of his poor oppressed people against their oppressors without fee or fear ; yea, 
he will plead their cause with pestilence, blood, and fire. Gog was a great oppressor 
of the poor (Ezekiel xxxviii. 8 14), and God pleads against him with pestilence, 
blood, and fire (verse 22) ; " and I will plead against him, with pestilence and with 
blood ; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people 
that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone." 
Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 6. " The words of the Lord are pure words," etc. How beautifully is 
this verse introduced, by way of contrast to what was said before concerning I 
Do sinners talk of vanity ? let saints then speak of Jesus and his gospel. Do they 
talk impure words ? then let the faithful use the pure words of God, which like 
silver, the more used, the more melted in the fire, the more precious will they be. 
It is true, indeed, despisers will esteem both God and his word as trifling ; but oh, 
what an unknown treasure doth the word, the promises, the covenant relation 
of the divine things of Jesus contain 1 They are more to be desired than gold, 
yea, than pure gold ; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Robert Hawker. 

Verse 6. " The words of the Lord are pure words," etc. They that purify silver 
to the purpose, use to put it in the fire again and again, that it may be thoroughly 
tried. So is the truth of God ; there is scarce any truth but hath been tried over 
and over again, and still if any dross happen to mingle with it, then God calls it in 
question again. If in former times there have been Scriptures alleged that have 
not been pertinent to prove it, that truth shall into the fire again, that what is 
dross may be burnt up ; the Holy Ghost is so curious, so delicate, so exact, he 
cannot bear that falsehood should be mingled with the truths of the gospel. That 
is the reason, therefore, why that God doth still, age after age, call former things 
in question, because that there is still some dross one way or other mingled with 
them ; either in the stating the opinions themselves, or else in the Scriptures that 
are brought and alleged for them, that have passed for current, for he will never 
leave till he have purified them. The doctrine of God s free grace hath been tried 
over, and over, and over again. Pelagius begins, and he mingles his dross with it : 
he saith, grace is nothing but nature in man. Well, his doctrine was purified, 
and a great deal of dross purged out. Then come the semi-Pelagians, and they 
part stakes ; they say, nature can do nothing without grace, but they make nature 
to concur with grace, and to have an influence as well as grace ; and the dross of 
that was burnt up. The Papists, they take up the same quarrel, but will neither 
be Pelagians nor semi-Pelagians, yet still mingle dross. The Arminians, they 
come, and they refine popery in that point anew ; still they mingle dross. God 
will have this truth tried seven times in the fire, till he hath brought it forth as 
pure as pure may be. And I say it is because that truth is thus precious. Thomas 

Verse 6. The Scripture is the sun ; the church is the clock. The sun we know 
to be sure, and regularly constant in his motions ; the clock, as it may fall out, 
may go too fast or too slow. As then, we should condemn him of folly that should 
profess to trust the clock rather than the sun, so we cannot but justly tax the 
credulity of those who would rather trust to the church than to the Scripture. 
Bishop Hall. 

Verse 6. " The words of the Lord are pure words." Men may inspect detached 
portions of the Book, and please themselves with some things, which, at first view, 
have the semblance of conniving at what is wrong. But let them read it, let them 
read the whole of it ; let them carry along in their minds the character of the persons 
to which the different portions of it were addressed ; the age of the world, and 
the circumstances under which the different parts of it were written, and the particular 
objects which even those portions of it have in view, which to an infidel mind appear 
the most exceptionable ; and they may be rationally convinced that, instead of 
originating in the bosom of an impostor, it owes its origin to men who wrote " as 
they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Let them scrutinise it with as much severity 
as they please ; only let their scrutiny be well informed, wisely directed, and with 


a fair and ingenuous mind, and we have no fears for the issue. There are portions 
of it on which ignorance and folly have put constructions that are forced and un 
natural, and which impure minds have viewed in shadows reflected from their own 
impurity. Montesquieu said of Voltaire, Lorsque Voltaire lit un livre, il le fait, 
puts il ecrit contre ce qu il a fait : " When Voltaire reads a book, he makes it what 
he pleases, and then writes against what he has made." It is no difficult matter 
to besmear and blot its pages, and then impute the foul stains that men of corrupt 
minds have cast upon it, to its stainless Author. But if we honestly look at it 
as it is, we shall find that like its Author, it is without blemish and without spot. 
Gardiner Spring, D.D. 

Verse 6. " The words of the Lord are pure words : as silver tried in a furnace 
of earth, purified seven times." The expression may import two things : first, the 
infallible certainty of the word ; and, secondly, the exact purity. First, the 
infallible certainty of the word, as gold endureth in the fire when the dross is con 
sumed. Vain conceits comfort us not in a time of trouble ; but the word of God, 
the more it is tried, the more you will find the excellency of it the promise is tried, 
as well as we are tried, in deep afflictions ; but, when it is so, it will be found to be 
most pure, " The word of the Lord is tried ; he is a buckler to all those that trust 
in him " (Prov. xxx. 5) ; as pure gold suffers no loss by the fire, so the promises 
suffer no loss when they are tried, but stand to us in our greatest troubles. Secondly, 
it notes the exact perfection of the word : there is no dross in silver and gold that 
hath been often refined ; so there is no defect in the word of God. Thomas Manton. 

Verse 6. Fry thus translates this verse : 

The words of Jehovah are pure words 

Silver refined in the crucible 

Gold, seven times washed from the earth. 

?j?P though sometimes applied to express the purity of silver, is more strictly an 
epithet of gold, from the peculiar method made use of in separating it from the 
soil by repeated washings and decantations. John Fry, in loc. 

Verse 6. "Seven times." I cannot but admit that there may be a mystic 
meaning in the expression " seven times," in allusion to the seven periods of the 
church, or to that perfection, implied in the figure seven, to which it is to be brought 
at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This will be more readily allowed by those who 
admit of the prophetic interpretation of the seven epistles of the Book of Revelation. 
W. Wilson, D.D., in loc. 

Verse 8. " When the vilest men are exalted : " Heb., vilities, oMdavot, the 
abstract for the concrete, quisquiliss, oMSavoi. Oft, empty vessels swim aloft, 
rotten posts are gilt with adulterate gold, the worst weeds spring up bravest. Chaff 
will get to the top of the fan, when good corn, as it lieth at the bottom of the heap, 
so it falls low at the feet of the fanner. The reason why wicked men " walk " on 
every side, are so brisk, so busy (and who but they ?) is given to be this, because 
losels and rioters were exalted. See Prov. xxviii. 12, 18, and xxix. 2. As rheums 
and catarrhs fall from the head to the lungs and cause a consumption of the whole 
body, so it is in the body politic. As a fish putrefies first in the head and then in all 
the parts, so here. Some render the text thus, " When they (that is, the wicked) 
are exalted," it is a " shame for the sons of men," that other men who better deserve 
preferment, are not only slighted, but vilely handled by such worthless ambitionists, 
who yet the higher they climb, as apes, the more they discover their deformities." 
John Trap p. 

Verse 8. Good thus translates this verse : 

Should the wicked advance on every side ; 
Should the dregs of the earth be uppermost ? 

The original is given literally, mVi means " fosces, fceculences, dregs." 019 is here 
an adverb, and imports uppermost, rather than exalted. J. Mason Good, in loc. 



Verse 1. " Help, Lord." I. The Prayer itself, short, suggestive, seasonable, 
rightly directed, vehement. II. Occasions for its use. III. Modes of its answer. 
IV. Reasons for expecting gracious reply. 

First two clauses. Text for funeral of an eminent believer. 

Whole verse. I. The fact bewailed describe godly and faithful, and show how 
they fail. II. The feeling excited. Mourning the loss, fears for church, personal 
need of such companions, appeal to God. III. The forebodings aroused. Failure 
of the cause, judgments impending, etc. IV. The faith remaining : " Help, Lord." 

Verse 1. Intimate connection between yielding honour to God and honesty to 
man, since they decline together. 

Verse 2 (first clause). A discourse upon the prevalence and perniciousness 
of vain talk. 

The whole verse. Connection between flattery and treachery. 

" A double heart." Right and wrong kinds of hearts, and the disease of duplicity. 

Verse 3. God s hatred of those twin sins of the lips Flattery and Pride (which 
is self flattery). Why he hates them. How he shows his hatred. In whom he 
hates them most. How to be cleansed from them. 

Verse 3, 4. I. The revolt of the tongue. Its claim of power, self-possession, 
and liberty. Contrast between this and the believer s confession, " we are not 
our own." II. The method of its rebellion " flattery, and speaking proud things." 
III. The end of its treason " cut off." 

Verse 5. The Lord aroused How 1 Why I What to do I When I 

Last clause. Peculiar danger of believers from those who despise them and 
their special safety. Good practical topic. 

Verse 6. The purity, trial, and permanency of the words of the Lord. 

Seven crucibles in which believers try the word. A little thought will suggest 

Verse 7. Preservation from one s generation in life and for ever. A very 
suggestive theme. 

Verse 8. Sin in high places specially infectious. Call to the rich and prominent 
to remember their responsibility. Thankfulness for honourable rulers. Dis 
crimination to be used in choice of our representatives, or civic magistrates. 


OCCASION. The Psalm cannot be referred to any especial event or period in David s 
history. All attempts to find it a birthplace are but guesses. It was, doubtless, more 
than once the. language of that much tried man of God, and is intended to express the 
feelings of the people of God in those ever-returning trials which beset them. If the 
reader has never yet found occasion to use the language of this brief ode, he will do so 
ere long, if he be a man after the Lord s own heart. We have been wont to call this 
the " How Long Psalm." We had almost said the Howling Psalm, from the incessant 
repetition of the cry " how long ? " 

DIVISION. This Psalm is very readily to be divided into three parts : the question 
of anxiety, 1,2; the cry of prayer, 3, 4 ; the song of faith, 5, 6. 


T-TOW long wilt thou forget me, O Lord ? for ever ? how long wilt thou 
A A hide thy face from me ? 

2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart 
daily ? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me ? 

" How long ? " This question is repeated no less than four times. It betokens 
very intense desire for deliverance, and great anguish of heart. And what if there 
be some impatience mingled therewith ; is not this the more true a portrait of our 
own experience ? It is not easy to prevent desire from degenerating into impatience. 
O for grace that, while we wait on God, we may be kept from indulging a murmuring 
spirit ! " How long ? " Does not the oft-repeated cry become a very HOWLING ? 
And what if grief should find no other means of utterance ? Even then, God is 
not far from the voice of our roaring ; for he does not regard the music of our prayers, 
but his own Spirit s work in them in exciting desire and inflaming the affections. 

" How long ? " Ah ! how long do our days appear when our soul is cast down 
within us I 

" How wearily the moments seem to glide 
O er sadness ! How the time 
Delights to linger in its flight ! " 

Time flies with full-fledged wing in our summer days, but in our winters he 
flutters painfully. A week within prison-walls is longer than a month at liberty. 
Long sorrow seems to argue abounding corruption ; for the gold which is long 
in the fire must have had much dross to be consumed, hence the question " how 
long ? " may suggest deep searching of heart. " How long wilt thou forget me ? " 
Ah, David 1 how like a fool thou talkest ! Can God forget ? Can Omniscience fail 
in memory ? Above all, can Jehovah s heart forget his own beloved child ? Ah ! 
brethren, let us drive away the thought, and hear the voice of our covenant God by 
the mouth of the prophet, " But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my 
Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should 
not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not 
forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands ; thy walls 
are continually before me." " For ever ? " Oh, dark thought I It was surely 
bad enough to suspect a temporary forgetfulness, but shall we ask the ungracious 
question, and imagine that the Lord will for ever cast away his people ? No, his 
anger may endure for a night, but his love shall abide eternally. " How long wilt 
thou hide thy face from me ? " This is a far more rational question, for God may 
hide his face, and yet he may remember still. A hidden face is no sign of a forgetful 
heart. It is in love that his face is turned away ; yet to a real child of God, this 
hiding of his Father s face is terrible, and he will never be at ease until once more 
he hath his Father s smile. " How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow 
in my heart daily ? " There is in the original the idea of " laying up " counsels 
in his heart, as if his devices had become innumerable but unavailing. Herein 
we have often been like David, for we have considered and reconsidered day after 
day, but have not discovered the happy device by which to escape from our trouble. 


Such store is a sad sore. Ruminating upon trouble is bitter work. Children fill 
their mouths with bitterness when they rebelliously chew the pill which they ought 
obediently to have taken at once. "How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me ? " 
This is like wormwood in the gall, to see the wicked enemy exulting while our soul 
is bowed down within us. The laughter of a foe grates horribly upon the ears 
of grief. For the devil to make mirth of our misery is the last ounce of our complaint, 
and quite breaks down our patience ; therefore let us make it one chief argument in 
our plea with mercy. 

Thus the careful reader will remark that the question " how long ? " is put 
in four shapes. The writer s grief is viewed, as it seems to be, as it is, as it affects 
himself within, and his foes without. We are all prone to play most on the worst 
string. We set up monumental stones over the graves of our joys, but who thinks 
of erecting monuments of praise for mercies received ? We write four books of 
Lamentations and only one of Canticles, and are far more at home in wailing out a 
Miserere than in chanting a Te Deum. 

3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep 
the sleep of death ; 

4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him ; and those that 
trouble me rejoice when I am moved. 

But now prayer lifteth up her voice, like the watchman who proclaims the day 
break. Now will the tide turn, and the weeper shall dry his eyes. The mercy-seat is 
the life of hope and the death of despair. The gloomy thought of God s having 
forsaken him is still upon the Psalmist s soul, and he therefore cries, " Consider 
and hear me." He remembers at once the root of his woe, and cries aloud that it 
may be removed. The final absence of God is Tophet s fire, and his temporary 
absence brings his people into the very suburbs of hell. God is here entreated to 
see and hear, that so he may be doubly moved to pity. What should we do if we 
had no God to turn to in the hour of wretchedness ? 

Note the cry of faith, " Lord MY God . " Is it not a very glorious fact that 
our interest in our God is not destroyed by all our trials and sorrows ? We may 
lose our gourds, but not our God. The title-deed of heaven is not written in the 
sand, but in eternal brass. 

" Lighten mine eyes : " that is, let the eye of my faith be clear, that I may see 
my God in the dark ; let my eye of watchfulness be wide open, lest I be entrapped, 
and let the eye of my understanding be illuminated to see the right way. Perhaps, 
too, here is an allusion to that cheering of the spirits so frequently called the en 
lightening of the eyes because it causes the face to brighten, and the eyes to sparkle. 
Well may we use the prayer, " Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord ! " 
for in many respects we need the Holy Spirit s illuminating rays. " Lest I sleep 
the sleep of death." Darkness engenders sleep, and despondency is not slow in 
making the eyes heavy. From this faintness and dimness of vision, caused by 
despair, there is but a step to the iron sleep of death. David feared that his trials 
would end his life, and he rightly uses his fear as an argument with God in prayer ; 
for deep distress has in it a kind of claim upon compassion, not a claim of right, 
but a plea which has power with grace. Under the pressure of heart sorrow, the 
Psalmist does not look forward to the sleep of death with hope and joy, as assured 
believers do. but he shrinks from it with dread, from which we gather that bondage 
from fear of death is no new thing. 

Another plea is urged in the fourth verse, and it is one which the tried believer 
may handle well when on his knees. We make use of our arch-enemy for once, 
and compel him, like Samson, to grind in our mill while we use his cruel arrogance 
as an argument in prayer. It is not the Lord s will that the great enemy of our 
souls should overcome his children. This would dishonour God, and cause the 
evil one to boast. It is well for us that our salvation and God s honour are so 
intimately connected, that they stand or fall together. 

Our covenant God will complete the confusion of all our enemies, and if for 
awhile we become their scoff and jest, the day is coming when the shame will change 
sides, and the contempt shall be poured on those to whom it is due. 

5 But I have trusted in thy mercy ; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. 

6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. 


What a change is here ! Lo, the rain is over and gone, and the time of the 
singing of birds is come. The mercy-seat has so refreshed the poor weeper, that 
he clears his throat for a song. If we have mourned with him, let us now dance 
with him. David s heart was more often out of tune than his harp. He begins 
many of his Psalms sighing, and ends them singing ; and others he begins in joy 
and ends in sorrow ; " so that one would think," says Peter Moulin, " that those 
Psalms had been composed by two men of a contrary humour." It is worthy to 
be observed that the joy is all the greater because of the previous sorrow, as calm 
is all the more delightful in recollection of the preceding tempest. 

" Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy." 

Here is his avowal of his confidence : " But I have trusted in thy mercy." For 
many a year it had been his wont to make the Lord his castle and tower of defence, 
and he smiles from behind the same bulwark still. He is sure of his faith, and his 
faith makes him sure ; had he doubted the reality of his trust in God, he would 
have blocked up one of the windows through which the sun of heaven delights to 
shine. Faith is now in exercise, and consequently is readily discovered ; there is 
never a doubt in our heart about the existence of faith while it is in action ; when 
the hare or partridge is quiet we see it not, but let the same be in motion and we soon 
perceive it. All the powers of his enemies had not driven the Psalmist from his 
stronghold. As the shipwrecked mariner clings to the mast, so did David cling 
to his faith ; he neither could nor would give up his confidence in the Lord his God. 
O that we may profit by his example, and hold by our faith as by our very life ! 

Now hearken to the music which faith makes in the soul. The bells of the 
mind are all ringing, "My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation." There is joy and 
feasting within doors, for a glorious guest has come, and the fatted calf is killed. 
Sweet is the music which sounds from the strings of the heart. But this is not all ; 
the voice joins itself in the blessed work, and the tongue keeps tune with the soul, 
while the writer declares, " 7 will sing unto the Lord." 

" I will praise thee every day. 
Now thine anger s turned away ; 
Comfortable thoughts arise 
From the bleeding sacrifice." 

The Psalm closes with a sentence which is a refutation of the charge of forget 
fulness which David had uttered in the first verse, " He hath dealt bountifully with 
me." So shall it be with us if we wait awhile. The complaint which in our haste 
we utter shall be joyfully retracted, and we shall witness that the Lord hath dealt 
bountifully with us. 


Verse 1. "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?" etc. The departures of 
God from true believers are never final ; they may be tedious, but they are 
temporary. As the evil spirit is said to depart from Christ for a season (Luke 
iv. 13 ; though he quitted that temptation, he did not quit his design, so as to 
tempt no more), so the good Spirit withdraws from those that are Christ s for a 
season only, tis with a purpose of coming again. When he hath most evidently 
forsaken, tis as unquestionable that sooner or later he will return ; and the happi 
ness of his return will richly recompense for the sadness of his desertion ; Isa. liv. 7, 
" For a small moment have I forsaken thee ; but with great mercies will I gather 
thee ; " here is not only a gathering after a forsaking, but " great mercies " to make 
amends for " a small moment." He who hath engaged to be our God for ever, 
cannot depart for ever. Timothy Cruso, 1696. 

Verse 1. " How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord ? " Whatever be the pressing 
need of Christ s followers in troubles, and their constant cleaving to duty for all 
that ; and whatever be Christ s purpose of love towards them, yet he seeth it fit 
ofttimes not to come to them at first, but will let the trial go on till it come to a 
height, and be a trial indeed, and put them seriously to it ; for before he came 


he lets them row " about five and twenty or thirty furlongs " (the last of which 
make near four miles, eight furlongs going to a mile) ; and (Mark vi. 48) he came 
not till the fourth watch of the night, which is the morning watch. We are indeed 
very sparing of ourselves in trouble, and do soon begin to think that we are low and 
tried enough, and therefore would be delivered ; but our wise Lord seeth that we 
need more. George Hutcheson, 1657. 

Verse 1. " How long," etc. Enquire into the cause of God s anger. He is 
never angry but when there is very great reason, when we force him to be so. What 
is that accursed thing in our hearts, or in our lives, for which God hides his face, 
and frowns upon us ? What particular disobedience to his commands is it for 
which he has taken up the rod ? Job x. 2 ; "I will say unto God, Do not condemn 
me ; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me;" as if he should say, Lord, my 
troubles and my sorrows are very well known. . . . We must not cease to be solicitous 
to know what are the particular sins that have made him to tear us up by the roots, 
to throw us down as with a whirlwind ; what is it that has made him so long angry 
with us, and so long to delay his help, that if any evil be undiscovered in our souls, 
we may lament it with a seasonable grief, and get a pardon for it. It is not the 
common course of God s providence to cover his servants with so thick a darkness 
as this is, which our troubled souls labour under in the day, or rather in the night 
of his displeasure ; and, therefore, we may with humility desire to know why he 
proceeds with us in a way that is so singular ; for it is some way delightful to the 
understanding to pierce into the reasons and causes of things. Timothy Rogers. 

Verse 1. " How long wilt thou forget me," etc. For God to forget David, not 
to mind him, or look after him, is much ! If his eye be never so little once off us, 
the spiritual adversary is ready presently to seize on us, as the kite on the chick 
if the hen look not carefully after it. ... As a father will sometimes cross his son 
to try the child s disposition, to see how he will take it, whether he will mutter and 
grumble at it, and grow humorous and way ward, neglect his duty to his father because 
his father seemeth to neglect him, or make offer to run away and withdraw himself 
from his father s obedience because he seemeth to carry himself harshly and roughly 
towards him, and to provoke him thereunto ; so doth God likewise ofttimes cross 
his children and seemeth to neglect them, so to try their disposition, what metal 
they are made of, how they stand affected towards him : whether they will neglect 
God because God seemeth to neglect them, forbear to serve him because he seemeth 
to forget them, cease to depend upon him because he seemeth not to look after 
them, to provide for them, or to protect them. Like Joram s prophane pursuivant, 
" This evil," saith he, " is of the Lord ; what should I wait for the Lord any longer ? " 
Or whether they will still constantly cleave to him, though he seem not to regard 
them, nor to have any care of them ; and say with Isaiah, " Yet will I wait upon 
God, though he have hid his face from us, and I will look for him though he look 
not on us ; " for, " They are blessed that wait on him ; and he will not fail in due 
time to show mercy unto all them that do so constantly wait on him." Isa. viii. 17 ; 
xxx. 18. As Samuel dealt with Saul ; he kept away till the last hour, to see what 
Saul would do when Samuel seemed not to keep touch with him. So doth God 
with his saints, and with those that be in league with him ; he withdraweth himself 
oft, and keeps aloof oft for a long time together to try what they will do, and what 
courses they will take when God seemeth to break with them and to leave them 
in the suds, as we say ; amidst many difficulties much perplexed, as it was with 
David at this time. Thomas Gataker, 1637. 

Verse I. 1. For desertions. I think them like lying fallow of lean and weak 
land for some years, while it gathers sap for a better crop. It is possible to gather 
gold, where it may be had, with moonlight. Oh, if I could but creep one foot, 
or half a foot, nearer in to Jesus, in such a dismal night as that when he is away, 
I should think it a happy absence 1 2. If I knew that the Beloved were only gone 
away for trial, and further humiliation, and not smoked out of the house with new 
provocations, I would forgive desertions and hold my peace at his absence. But 
Christ s bought absence (that I bought with my sin), is two running boils at once, 
one upon each side ; and what side then can I lie on ? 3. I know that, as night 
and shadows are good for flowers, and moonlight and dews are better than a continual 
sun, so is Christ s absence of special use, and that it hath some nourishing virtue 
in it, and giveth sap to humility, and putteth an edge on hunger, and furnisheth a 
fair field to faith to put forth itself, and to exercise its fingers in gripping it seeth 
not what. Samuel Rutherford, 1600 1661. 


Verses 1, 2. That which the French proverb hath of sickness is true of all evils, 
that they come on horseback and go away on foot ; we have often seen that a sudden 
fall, or one meal s surfeit, has stuck by many to their graves ; whereas pleasures 
come like oxen, slow and heavily, and go away like post-horses, upon the spur. 
Sorrows, because they are lingering guests, I will entertain but moderately, knowing 
that the more they are made of the longer they will continue : and for pleasures, 
because they stay not, and do but call to drink at my door, I will use them as 
passengers with slight respect. He is his own best friend that makes the least 
of both of them. Joseph Hall. 

Verses 1, 2. " How LONG wilt thou forget me ? How LONG wilt thou hide thy 
face from me ? How LONG shall I take counsel in my soul ? " The intenseness 
of the affliction renders it trying to our fortitude ; but it is by the continuance 
of it that patience is put to the test. It is not under the sharpest, but the longest 
trials, that we are most in danger of fainting. In the first case, the soul collects all 
its strength, and feels in earnest to call in help from above ; but, in the last, the 
mind relaxes, and sinks into despondency. When Job was accosted with evil 
tidings, in quick succession, he bore it with becoming fortitude ; but when he could 
see no end to his troubles, he sunk under them. Andrew Fuller. 

Verses I 4. Everything is strangely changed ; all its comeliness, and beauty, 
and glory, vanishes when the life is gone : life is the pleasant thing ; tis sweet 
and comfortable ; but death with its pale attendants, raises a horror and aversion 
to it everywhere. The saints of God dread the removal of his favour, and the 
hiding of his face ; and when it is hid, a faintness and a cold amazement and fear 
seizes upon every part, and they feel strange bitterness, and anguish, and tribulation, 
which makes their joints to tremble, and is to them as the very pangs of death. 
Timothy Rogers. 

Verses 1, 5, 6. Prayer helps towards the increase and growth of grace, by 
drawing the habits of grace into exercise. Now, as exercise brings benefit to the 
body, so does prayer to the soul. Exercise doth help to digest or breathe forth 
those humours that clog the spirits. One that stirs little we see grow pursy, and 
is soon choked up with phlegm, which exercise clears the body of. Prayer is the 
saint s exercise-field, where his graces are breathed ; it is as the wind to the air, 
it brightens the soul ; as bellows to the fire, which clears the coal of those ashes 
that smother them. The Christian, while in this world, lives in an unwholesome 
climate ; one while, the delights of it deaden and dull his love of Christ ; another 
while, the trouble he meets in it damps his faith on the promise. How now should 
the Christian get out of these distempers, had he not a throne of grace to resort 
to, where if once his soul be in a melting frame, he (like one laid in a kindly sweat), 
soon breathes out the malignity of his disease, and comes ino his right temper again ? 
How often do we find the holy prophet, when he first kneels down to pray, full of 
fears and doubts, who, before he and the duty part, grows into a sweet familiarity 
with God, and repose in his own spirit ! (Psalm xiii. 1) He begins his prayer as 
if he thought God would never give him a kind look more : " How long wilt thou 
forget me, O Lord ? for ever ? " But by that time he had exercised himself a little 
in duty, his distemper wears off, the mists scatter, and his faith breaks out as the 
sun in its strength, verses 5, 6 : " / have trusted in thy mercy ; my heart shall rejoice 
in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord." Thus his faith lays the cloth, expecting 
a feast ere long to be set on: he that now questioned whether he should ever hear 
good news from heaven, is so strong in faith as to make himself merry with the 
hopes of that mercy which he is assured will come at last. Abraham began with 
fifty, but his faith got ground on God every step till he brought down the price of 
their lives to ten. William Gurnall. 

Verses 1, 6. Whatever discouragements thou meetest within thine attendance 
on God in ordinances, be like the English jet, fired by water, and not like our ordinary 
fires, quenched by it ; let them add to, not diminish, thy resolution and courage ; 
let not one repulse beat thee off ; be violent, give a second storm to the kingdom of 
heaven. Parents sometimes hide themselves to make their children continue 
seeking. He that would not at first open his mouth, nor vouchsafe the woman of 
Canaan a word, doth, upon her continued and fervent petitions, at last open his 
hand and give her whatsoever she asks: "O woman, be it unto thee as thou wilt." 
Continued importunity is undeniable oratory. And truly, if after all thy pains 
thou findest Jesus Christ, will it not make amends for thy long patience ? Men 
that venture often at a lottery, though they take blanks twenty times, if afterwards 


they get a golden bason and ewer, it will make them abundant satisfaction. Suppose 
thou shouldst continue knocking twenty, nay, forty years, yet if at last, though 
but one hour before thou diest thy heart be opened to Christ, and he be received 
into thy soul, and when thou diest heaven be opened to thee, and thy soul received 
into it, will it not infinitely requite thee for all thy labour ? Oh, think of it, and 
resolve never to be dumb while God is deaf, never to leave off prayer till God return 
a gracious answer. And for thy comfort, know that he who began his Psalm with, 
" How long wilt thou forget me, Lord ? for ever ? how long wilt thou hide thy face 
from me ? " comes to conclude it with, " / will sing unto the Lord, because he hath 
dealt bountifully with me," George Swinnock. 

Verse 2. " How long ? " There are many situations of the believer in this 
life in which the words of this Psalm may be a consolation, and help to revive sinking 
faith. A certain man lay at the pool of Bethesda, who had an infirmity thirty 
and eight years. John v. 5. A woman had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, 
before she was " loosed." Luke xiii. 11. Lazarus all his life long laboured under 
disease and poverty, till he was released by death and transferred to Abraham s 
bosom. Luke xvi. 20 22. Let every one, then, who may be tempted to use the 
complaints of this Psalm, assure his heart that God does not forget his people, help 
will come at last, and, in the meantime, all things shall work together for good 
to them that love him. W. Wilson, D.D. 

Verse 2. " How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart 
daily ? " There is such a thing as to pore on our guilt and wretchedness, to the 
overlooking of our highest mercies. Though it be proper to know our own hearts, 
for the purposes of conviction, yet, if we expect consolation from this quarter, 
we shall find ourselves sadly disappointed. Such, for a time, appears to have been 
the case of David. He seems to have been in great distress ; and as is common 
in such cases, his thoughts turned inward, casting in his mind what he should do, 
and what would be the end of things. While thus exercised, he had sorrow in his 
heart daily : but, betaking himself to God for relief, he succeeded, trusting in his 
mercy, his heart rejoiced in his salvation. There are many persons, who, when in 
trouble, imitate David in the former part of this experience : I wish we may imitate 
him in the latter. Andrew Fuller. 

Verses 2, 4. " How shall mine enemy be exalted over me ? " Tis a great relief 
to the miserable and afflicted, to be pitied by others. It is some relief when others, 
though they cannot help us, yet seem to be truly concerned for the sadness of our 
case ; when by the kindness of their words and of their actions they do a little 
smooth the wounds they cannot heal ; but tis an unspeakable addition to the 
cross, when a man is brought low under the sense of God s displeasure, to have 
men to mock at his calamity, or to revile him, or to speak roughly ; this does 
inflame and exasperate the wound that was big enough before ; and it is a hard 
thing when one has a dreadful sound in his ears to have every friend to become 
a son of thunder. It is a small matter for people that are at ease, to deal severely 
with such as are afflicted, but they little know how their severe speeches and their 
angry words pierce them to the very soul. Tis easy to blame others for complaining, 
but if such had felt but for a little while what it is to be under the fear of God s 
anger, they would find that they could not but complain. It cannot but make 
any person restless and uneasy when he apprehends that God is his enemy. It 
is no wonder if he makes every one that he sees, and every place that he is in, a 
witness of his grief ; but now it is a comfort in our temptations and in our fears, 
that we have so compassionate a friend as Christ is to whom we may repair, " For 
we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; 
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. iv. 15. Timothy 

Verse 3. " Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death." In time of sickness 
and grief, the " eyes " are dull and heavy ; and they grow more and more so as 
death approaches, which closes them in darkness. On the other hand, health and 
joy render the organs of vision bright and sparkling, seeming, as it were, to impart 
" light " to them from within. The words, therefore, may be fitly applied to a 
recovery of the body natural, and thence, of the body politic, from their respective 
maladies. Nor do they less significantly describe the restoration of the soul to a 
state of spiritual health and holy joy, which will manifest themselves in like manner, 


by " the eyes of the understanding being enlightened ; " and in this case, the soul 
is saved from the sleep of sin, as the body is in the other, from the sleep of death. 
George Home. 

Verse 3. Why dost thou hide thy face ? happily thou wilt say, None can see 
thy face and live. Ah, Lord, let me die, that I may see thee ; let me see thee, 
that I may die : I would not live, but die ; that I may see Christ, I desire death ; 
that I may live with Christ, I despise life. Augustine. 

Verse 3. " How long wilt thou hide thy face from me ? " Oh, excellent hiding, 
which is become my perfection I My God, thou hidest thy treasure to kindle my 
desire I Thou hidest thy pearl, to inflame the seeker ; thou delayest to give, that 
thou mayest teach me to importune ; seemest not to hear, to make me persevere. 
John Anselrn, 10341109. 

Verse 4. 

Ah ! can you bear contempt ; the venom d tongue 
Of those whom ruin pleases, the keen sneer, 
The lewd reproaches of the rascal herd ; 
Who for the selfsame actions, if successful, 
Would be as grossly lavish in your praise ? 
To sum up all in one can you support 
The scornful glances, the malignant joy, 
Or more detested pity of a rival 
Of a triumphant rival ? 

James Thomson, 1700 1748. 

Verse 4. " And those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved " compose comedies 
out of my tragedies. John Trapp. 

Verse 5. " I have trusted in thy mercy ; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation." 
Faith rejoiceth in tribulations, and triumpheth before the victory. The patient 
is glad when he feels his physic to work, though it make him sick for the time 
because he hopes it will procure health. We rejoice in afflictions, not that they 
are joyous for the present, but because they shall work for our good. As faith 
rejoiceth, so it triumpheth in assurance of good success ; for it seeth not according 
to outward appearance, but when all means fail, it keepeth God in sight, and 
beholdeth him present for our succour. John Ball. 

Verse 5. " I have trusted in thy mercy ; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation." 
Though passion possess our bodies, let " patience possess our souls." The law 
of our profession binds us to a warfare ; paticndo vincimus, our troubles shall end, 
our victory is eternal. Here David s triumph (Psalm xviii. 38 40), " I have 
wounded them, that they were not able to rise ; they are fallen under my feet. 
Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given 
me the neck of mine enemies," etc. They have wounds for their wounds ; and 
the treaders down of the poor are trodden down by the poor. The Lord will subdue 
those to us that would have subdued us to themselves ; and though for a short 
time they rode over our heads, yet now at last we shall everlastingly tread upon 
their necks. Lo, then, the reward of humble patience and confident hope. 
Speramus et superamus. Deut. xxxii. 31. " Our God is not as their God, even our 
enemies being judges." Psalm xx. 7. " Some put their trust in chariots, and 
some in horses." But no chariot hath strength to oppose, nor horse swiftness to 
escape, when God pursues. Verse 8. " They are brought down and fallen ; we 
are risen and stand upright." Their trust hath deceived them ; down they fall, 
and never to rise. Our God hath helped us ; we are risen, not for a breathing 
space, but to stand upright for ever. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 5. None live so easily, so pleasantly, as those that live by faith. Matthew 

Verse 5. Wherefore I say again, " Live by faith ; " again I say, always live by 
it, rejoice through faith in the Lord. I dare boldly say it is thy fault and neglect 
of its exercise if thou suffer either thy own melancholy humour or Satan to interrupt 
thy mirth and spiritual alacrity, and to detain thee in dumps and pensiveness at 
any time. What if thou beest of a sad constitution ? of a dark complexion ? Is 
not faith able to rectify nature ? Is it not stronger than any hellebore ? Doth 
not an experienced divine and physician worthily prefer one dram of it before all 
the drugs in the apothecary s shop for this effect ? Hath it not sovereign virtue 
in it, to excerebrate all cares, expectorate all fears and griefs, evacuate the mind 


of all ill thoughts and passions, to exhilarate the whole man ? But what good 
doth it to any to have a cordial by him if he use it not ? To wear a sword, soldier 
like, by his side, and not to draw it forth in an assault ? When a dump overtakes 
thee, if thou wouldst say to thy soul in a word or two, " Soul, why art thou dis 
quieted ? know and consider in whom thou believest," would it not presently 
return to its rest again ? Would not the Master rebuke the winds and storms, 
and calm thy troubled mind presently ? Hath not every man something or other 
he useth to put away dumps, to drive away the evil spirit, as David with his harp ? 
Some with merry company, some with a cup of sack, most with a pipe of tobacco, 
without which they cannot ride or go. If they miss it a day together they are 
troubled with rheums, dulness of spirits. They that live in fens and ill airs dare 
not stir out without a morning draught of some strong liquor. Poor, silly, smoky 
helps, in comparison with the least taste (but for dishonouring faith I would say 
whiff) or draught of faith. Samuel Ward, 15771653. 

Verse 6. " / will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." 
Faith keeps the soul from sinking under heavy trials, by bringing in former ex 
periences of the power, mercy, and faithfulness of God to the afflicted soul. Hereby 
was the Psalmist supported in distress. Oh, saith faith, remember what God hath 
done both for thy outward and inward man : he hath not only delivered thy body 
when in trouble, but he hath done great things for thy soul; he hath brought thee 
out of a state of black nature, entered into a covenant relation with thee, made 
his goodness pass before thee ; he hath helped thee to pray, and many times hath 
heard thy prayers and thy tears. Hath he not formerly brought thee out of the 
horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and put a new song in thy mouth, and made 
thee to resolve never to give way to such unbelieving thoughts and fears again? 
and how unbecoming is it for thee now to sink in trouble ? John Willison, 

Verse 6. " I will sing unto the Lord." Mr. John Philpot having lain for some 
time in the bishop of London s coal-house, the bishop sent for him, and amongst 
other questions, asked him why they were so merry in prison ? singing (as the 
prophet speaks) Exultantes in rebus pessimis, rejoicing in your naughtiness, whereas 
you should rather lament and be sorry. Mr. Philpot answered, " My lord, the 
mirth which we make is but in singing certain Psalms, as we are commanded by 
Paul to rejoice in the Lord, singing together hymns and Psalms, for we are in a 
dark, comfortless place, and therefore, we thus solace ourselves. I trust, therefore, 
your lordship will not be angry, seeing the apostle saith, If any be of an upright 
heart, let him sing Psalms ; and we, to declare that we are of an upright mind to 
God, though we are in misery, yet refresh ourselves with such singing." After 
some other discourse, saith he, " I was carried back to my lord s coal-house, where I, 
with my six fellow prisoners, do rouze together in the straw, as cheerfully (I thank 
God) as others do in their beds of down." And in a letter to a friend, he thus writes : 
" Commend me to Mr. Elsing and his wife, and thank them for providing me some 
ease in my prison ; and tell them that though my lord s coal-house be very black, 
yet it is more to be desired of the faithful than the Queen s palace. The world 
wonders how we can be so merry under such extreme miseries ; but our God is 
omnipotent, who turns misery into felicity. Believe me, there is no such joy in 
the world, as the people of God have under the cross of Christ : I speak by experience, 
and therefore believe me, and fear nothing that the world can do unto you, for when 
they imprison our bodies, they set our souls at liberty to converse with God ; when 
they cast us down, they lift us up ; when they kill us, then do they send us to ever 
lasting life. What greater glory can there be than to be made conformable to our 
Head, Christ ? And this is done by affliction. O good God, what am I, upon whom 
thou shouldst bestow so great a mercy ? This is the day which the Lord hath 
made ; let us rejoice and be glad in it. This is the way, though it be narrow, 
which is full of the peace of God, and leadeth to eternal bliss. Oh, how my heart 
leapeth for joy that I am so near the apprehension thereof! God forgive me my 
unthankfulness and unworthiness of so great glory. I have so much joy, that though 
I be in a place of darkness and mourning, yet I cannot lament ; but both night and 
day am so full of joy, as I never was so merry before ; the Lord s name be praised 
for ever. Our enemies do fret, fume, and gnash their teeth at it. O pray instantly 
that this ioy may never be taken from us ; for it passeth all the delights in this 
world. This is the peace of God that passeth all understanding. This peace, the 


more his chosen be afflicted, the more they feel it, and therefore cannot faint neither 
for fire nor water." Samuel Clarke s " Mirrour," 1671. 

Verse 6. "/ will sing unto the Lord." How far different is the end of this 
Psalm from the beginning 1 John Trapp. 

Verse 6. " / will sing unto the Lord," etc. I never knew what it was for God 
to stand by me at all turns, and at every offer of Satan to afflict me, etc., as I have 
found him since I came in hither ; for look how fears have presented themselves, so 
have supports and encouragements ; yet, when I have started, even as it were at 
nothing else but my shadow, yet God, as being very tender of me, hath not suffered 
me to be molested, but would with one Scripture or another, strengthen me against 
all ; insomuch that I have often said, Were it lawful, I could pray for greater trouble, 
for the greater comfort s sake. Eccles. vii. 14 ; 2 Cor. i. 5. John Banyan, 1628 1688. 


Verse 1. The apparent length of sorrow, only apparent. Contrast with days 
of joy, with eternal misery and eternal joy. Impatience, and other evil passions, 
cause the seeming length. Means of shortening, by refusing to forestall, or to repine 

Verse 1 (second clause). Hiding of the divine face. Why at all ? Why from 
me ? Why so long ? 

Verse 2. Advice to the dejected, or the soul directed to look out of itself for 
consolation. A. Fuller. 

Verse 2 (first clause). Self-torture, its cause, curse, crime, and cure. 

Verse 2. " Having sorrow in my heart daily." I. The cause of daily sorrow. 
Great enemy, unbelief, sin, trial, loss of Jesus presence, sympathy with others, 
mourning for human ruin. II. The necessity of daily sorrow. Purge corruptions, 
excite graces, raise desires heavenward. III. The cure of daily sorrow. Good food 
from God s table, old wine of promises, walks with Jesus, exercise in good works, 
avoidance of everything unhealthy. B. Davis. 

Verse 2. (second clause). Time anticipated when defeat shall be turned into 

Verse 3. By accommodating the text to the believer. I. True character of 
Satan, "enemy." II. Remarkable fact that his enemy is exalted over us. III. 
Pressing enquiry, " How long ? " B. Davis. 

Verse 3. " Lighten mine eyes." A prayer fit for (1) Every benighted sinner. 
(2) Every seeker of salvation. (3) Every learner in Christ s school. (4) Every 
tried believer. (5) Every dying saint. B. Davis. 

Verse 4. Noteth the nature of the wicked two ways ; namely, the more they 
prevail the more insolent they are ; they wonderfully exult over those that are 
afflicted. T. Wilcocks. 

Verse 5. Experience and perseverance. " I have," " my heart shall." 

Verse 6. The bountiful giver and the hearty singer. 

The whole Psalm would make a good subject, showing the stages from mourning 
to rejoicing, dwelling especially upon the turning point, prayer. There are two 
verses for each, mourning, praying, rejoicing. A. G. Brown. 


TITLE. This admirable ode is simply headed, " To the Chief Musician by David." 
The dedication to the Chief Musician stands at the head of fifty-three of the Psalms, 
and clearly indicates that such Psalms were intended, not merely for the private use 
of believers, but to be sung in the great assemblies by the appointed choir at whose head 
was the overseer, or superintendent, called in our version, " the Chief Musician," and 
by Ains worth, " the master of the Music." Several of these Psalms have little or no 
praise in them, and were not addressed directly to the Most High, and yet were to be 
sung in public worship ; which is a clear indication that the theory of Augustine lately 
revived by certain hymn-book makers, that nothing but praise should be sung, is 
far more plausible than Scriptural. Not only did the ancient Church chant hallowed 
doctrine and offer prayer amid her spiritual songs, but even the wailing notes of com 
plaint were put into her mouth by the sweet singer of Israel who was inspired of God. 
Some persons grasp at any nicety which has a gloss of apparent correctness upon it, 
and are pleased with being more fancifully precise than others ; nevertheless it will 
ever be the way of plain men, not only to magnify the Lord in sacred canticles, but also, 
according to Paul s precept, to teach and admonish one another in Psalms and hymns 
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord. 

As no distinguishing title is given to this Psalm, we would suggest as an assistance 
to the memory, the heading CONCERNING PRATICAL ATHEISM. The many conjectures 
as to the occasion upon which it was written are so completely without foundation, that 
it would be a waste of time to mention them at length. The apostle Paul, in Romans 
in., has shown incidentally that the drift of the inspired writer is to show that both Jews 
and Gentiles are all under sin ; there was, therefore, no reason for fixing upon any 
particular historical occasion, when all history reeks with terrible evidence of human 
corruption. With instructive alterations, David has given us in Psalm liii. a second 
edition of this humiliating psalm, being moved of the Holy Ghost thus doubly to declare 
a truth which is ever distasteful to carnal minds. 

DIVISION. The world s foolish creed (verse 1); its practical influence in corrupting 
morals, 1, 2, 3. The persecuting tendencies of sinners, 4 ; their alarms, 5 ; their 
ridicule of the godly, 6 ; and a prayer for the manifestation of the Lord to his people s 


HpHE fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they 
A have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 

" The fool." The Atheist is the fool pre-eminently, and a fool universally. He 
would not deny God if he were not a fool by nature, and having denied God it is 
no marvel that he becomes a fool in practice. Sin is always folly, and as it is the 
height of sin to attack the very existence of the Most High, so is it also the greatest 
imaginable folly. To say there is no God is to belie the plainest evidence, which 
is obstinacy ; to oppose the common consent of mankind, which is stupidity ; to 
stifle consciousness, which is madness. If the sinner could by his atheism destroy 
the God whom he hates there were some sense, although much wickedness, in his 
infidelity ; but as denying the existence of fire does not prevent its burning a man 
who is in it, so doubting the existence of God will not stop the Judge of all the earth 
from destroying the rebel who breaks his laws ; nay, this atheism is a crime which 
much provokes heaven, and will bring down terrible vengeance on the fool who 
indulges it. The proverb says, "A fool s tongue cuts his own throat," and in this 
instance it kills both soul and body for ever : would to God the mischief stopped 
even there, but alas I one fool makes hundreds, and a noisy blasphemer spreads 
his horrible doctrines as lepers spread the plague. Ainsworth, in his " Annotations," 
tells us that the word here used is Nabal, which has the signification of fading, 
dying, or falling away, as a withered leaf or flower ; it is a title given to the foolish 
man as having lost the juice and sap of wisdom, reason, honesty, and godliness. 
Trapp hits the mark when he calls him " that sapless fellow, that carcase of a man, 
that walking sepulchre of himself, in whom all religion and right reason is withered 


and wasted, dried up and decayed." Some translate it the apostate, and others 
the wretch. With what earnestness should we shun the appearance of doubt as to 
the presence, activity, power and love of God, for all such mistrust is of the nature 
of folly, and who among us would wish to be ranked with the fool in the text ? Yet 
let us never forget that all unregenerate men are more or less such fools. 

The fool " hath said in his heart." May a man with his mouth profess to believe, 
and yet in heart say the reverse ? Had he hardly become audacious enough to 
utter his folly with his tongue ? Did the Lord look upon his thoughts as being in 
the nature of words to him though not to man ? Is this where man first becomes 
an unbeliever ? in his heart, not in his head ? And when he talks atheistically, is 
it a foolish heart speaking and endeavouring to clamour down the voice of con 
science ? We think so. If the affections were set upon truth and righteousness, 
the understanding would have no difficulty in settling the question of a present 
personal Deity, but as the heart dislikes the good and the right, it is no wonder 
that it desires to be rid of that Elohim, who is the great moral Governor, the Patron 
of rectitude and the Punisher of iniquity. While men s hearts remain what they 
are, we must not be surprised at the prevalence of scepticism ; a corrupt tree will 
bring forth corrupt fruit. " Every man," says Dickson, " so long as he lieth un- 
renewed and unreconciled to God is nothing in effect but a madman." What wonder 
then if he raves ? Such fools as those we are now dealing with are common to all 
time, and all countries ; they grow without watering, and are found all the world 
over. The spread of mere intellectual enlightenment will not diminish their number, 
for since it is an affair of the heart, this folly and great learning will often dwell 
together. To answer sceptical cavillings will be labour lost until grace enters to 
make the mind willing to believe ; fools can raise more objections in an hour than 
wise men can answer in seven years, indeed it is their mirth to set stools for wise men 
to stumble over. Let the preacher aim at the heart, and preach the all-conquering 
love of Jesus, and he will by God s grace win more doubters to the faith of the gospel 
than any hundred of the best reasoners who only direct their arguments to the head. 

" The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," or " no God." So monstrous 
is the assertation, that the man hardly dared to put it as a positive statement, but 
went very near to doing so. Calvin seems to regard this saying " no God," as hardly 
amounting to a syllogism, scarcely reaching to a positive, dogmatical declaration ; 
but Dr. Alexander clearly shows that it does. It is not merely the wish of the 
sinner s corrupt nature, and the hope of his rebellious heart, but he manages after a 
fashion to bring himself to assert it, and at certain seasons he thinks that he believes 
it. It is a solemn reflection that some who worship God with their lips may in their 
hearts be saying, " no God." It is worthy of observation that he does not say 
there is no Jehovah, but there is no Elohim ; Deity in the abstract is not so much 
the object of attack, as the covenant, personal, ruling and governing presence of 
God in the world. God as ruler, lawgiver, worker, Saviour, is the butt at which 
the arrows of human wrath are shot. How impotent the malice ! How mad the 
rage which raves and foams against him in whom we live and move and have our 
being I How horrible the insanity which leads a man who owes his all to God to 
cry out, " No God " ! How terrible the depravity which makes the whole race 
adopt this as their hearts desire, " no God " 1 

" They are corrupt." This refers to all men, and we have the warrant of the Holy 
Ghost for so saying ; see the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Where 
there is enmity to God, there is deep, inward depravity of mind. The words are 
rendered by eminent critics in an active sense, " they have done corruptly : " this 
may serve to remind us that sin is not only in our nature passively as the source of 
evil, but we ourselves actively fan the flame and corrupt ourselves, making that 
blacker still which was black as darkness itself already. We rivet our own chains 
by habit and continuance. 

" They have done abominable works." When men begin with renouncing the 
Most High God, who shall tell where they will end ? When the Master s eyes are 
put out, what will not the servants do ? Observe the state of the world before 
the flood, as pourtrayed in Genesis vi. 12, and remember that human nature is 
unchanged. He who would see a terrible photograph of the world without God 
must read that most painful of all inspired Scriptures, the first chapter of the epistle 
to the Romans. Learned Hindoos have confessed that the description is literally 
correct in Hindostan at the present moment ; and were it not for the restraining 
grace of God, it would be so in England. Alas ! it is even here but too correct a 



picture of things which are done of men in secret. Things loathsome to God and 
man are sweet to some palates. 

" There is none that doetli good." Sins of omission must abound where trans 
gressions are rife. Those who do the things which they ought not to have done, 
are sure to leave undone those things which they ought to have done. What a 
picture of our race is this ! Save only where grace reigns, there is none that doeth 
good ; humanity, fallen and debased, is a desert without an oasis, a night without 
a star, a dunghill without a jewel, a hell without a bottom. 

2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see 
if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 

3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy ! there is 
none that doeth good, no, not one 

" The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men." As from a watch- 
tower, or other elevated place of observation, the Lord is represented as gazing 
intently upon men. He will not punish blindly, nor like a tyrant command an 
indiscriminate massacre because a rumour of rebellion has come up to his ears. 
What condesceuding interest and impartial justice are here imagined ! The case 
of Sodom, visited before it was overthrown, illustrates the careful manner in which 
Divine Justice beholds the sin before it avenges it, and searches out the righteous 
that they perish not with the guilty. Behold then the eyes of Omniscience ran 
sacking the globe, and prying among every people and nation, " to see if there were 
any that did understand and seek God." He who is looking down knows the good, 
is quick to discern it, would be delighted to find it ; but as he views all the un- 
regenerate children of men his search is fruitless, for of all the race of Adam, no 
unrenewed soul is other than an enemy to God and goodness. The objects of the 
Lord s search are not wealthy men, great men, or learned men ; these, with all they 
can offer, cannot meet the demands of the great Governor : at the same time, he 
is not looking for superlative eminence in virtue, he seeks for any that understand 
themselves, their state, their duty, their destiny, their happiness ; he looks for any 
that seek God, who, if there be a God, are willing and anxious to find him out. Surely 
this is not too great a matter to expect ; for if men have not yet known God, if they 
have any right understanding, they will seek him. Alas 1 even this low degree of 
good is not to be found even by him who sees all things ; but men love the hideous 
negation of " No God," and with their backs to their Creator, who is the sun of 
their life, they journey into the dreary region of unbelief and alienation, which is a 
land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death without any order and 
where the light is as darkness. 

" They are all gone aside." Without exception, all men have apostatized from 
the Lord their Maker, from his laws, and from the eternal principles of right. Like 
stubborn heifers they have sturdily refused to receive the yoke, like errant sheep 
they have found a gap and left the right field. The original speaks of the race as a 
whole, as a totality ; and humanity as a whole has become depraved in heart and 
defiled in life. " They have altogether become filthy ; " as a whole they are spoiled 
and soured like corrupt leaven, or, as some put it, they have become putrid and 
even stinking. The only reason why we do not more clearly see this foulness is 
because we are accustomed to it, just as those who work daily among offensive odours 
at last cease to smell them. The miller does not observe the noise of his own mill, 
and we are slow to discover our own ruin and depravity. But are there no special 
cases, are all men sinful ? " Yes," says the Psalmist, in a manner not to be mistaken, 
" they are." He has put it positively, he repeats it negatively, " There is none that 
doeth good, no, not one." The Hebrew phrase is an utter denial concerning any mere 
man that he of himself doeth good. What can be more sweeping ? This is the 
verdict of the all-seeing Jehovah, who cannot exaggerate or mistake. As if no hope 
of finding a solitary specimen of a good man among the unrenewed human family 
might be harboured for an instant. The Holy Spirit is not content with saying all 
and altogether, but adds the crushing threefold negative, " none, no, no* one." What 
say the opponents to the doctrine of natural depravity to this ? Rather what do 
we feel concerning it ? Do we not confess that we by nature are corrupt, and do 
we not bless the sovereign grace which has renewed us in the spirit of our 
minds, that sin may no more have dominion over u>, but that grace may rule 
and reign ? 


4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge ? who eat up my people 
as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. 

Hatred of God and corruptness of life are the motive forces which produce per 
secution. Men who having no saving knowledge of divine things, enslave themselves 
to become workers of iniquity, have no heart to cry to the Lord for deliverance, 
but seek to amuse themselves with devouring the poor and despised people of God. 
It is hard bondage to be a "worker of iniquity ; " a worker at the galleys, or in the 
mines of Siberia, is not more truly degraded and wretched ; the toil is hard and the 
reward dreadful ; those who have no knowledge choose such slavery, but those 
who are taught of God cry to be rescued from it. The same ignorance which keeps 
men bondsmen to evil, makes them hate the freeborn sons of God ; hence they seek 
to eat them up " as they eat bread," daily, ravenously, as though it were an ordinary, 
usual, every-day matter to oppress the saints of God. As pikes in a pond eat up 
little fish, as eagles prey on smaller birds, as wolves rend the sheep of the pasture, 
so sinners naturally and as a matter of course persecute, malign, and mock the 
followers of the Lord Jesus. While thus preying, they forswear all praying, and in 
this act consistently, for how could they hope to be heard while their hands are full 
of blood? 

5 There were they in great fear : for God is in the generation of the 

Oppressors have it not all their own way, they have their fits of trembling and 
their appointed seasons of overthrow. There where they denied God and hectored 
against his people ; there where they thought of peace and safety, they were made 
to quail. " There were they " these very loud-mouthed, iron-handed, proud- 
hearted Nimrods and Herods, these heady, high-minded sinners " there were they 
in great fear." A panic terror seized them : " they feared a fear," as the Hebrew 
puts it ; an undefinable, horrible, mysterious dread crept over them. The most 
hardened of men have their periods when conscience casts them into a cold sweat 
of alarm. As cowards are cruel, so all cruel men are at heart cowards. The ghost 
of past sin is a terrible spectre to haunt any man, and though unbelievers may 
boast as loudly as they will, a sound is in their ears which makes them ill at ease. 

"For God is in the generation of the righteous." This makes the company of 

fodly men so irksome to the wicked because they perceive that God is with them, 
hut their eyes as they may, they cannot but perceive the image of God in the 
character of his truly gracious people, nor can they fail to see that he works for their 
deliverance. Like Haman, they instinctively feel a trembling when they see God s 
Mordecais. Even though the saint may be in a mean position, mourning at the 
gate where the persecutor rejoices in state, the sinner feels the influence of the 
believer s true nobility and quails before it, for God is there. Let scoffers beware, 
for they persecute the Lord Jesus when they molest his people ; the union is very 
close between God and his people, it amounts to a mysterious indwelling, for God 
is in the generation of the righteous. 

6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. 
Notwithstanding their real cowardice, the wicked put on the lion s skin and 

lord it over the Lord s poor ones. Though fools themselves, they mock at the truly 
wise as if the folly were on their side ; but this is what might be expected, for how 
should brutish minds appreciate excellence, and how can those who have owl s 
eyes admire the sun ? The special point and butt of their jest seems to be the con 
fidence of the godly in their Lord. What can your God do for you now? Who is 
that God who can deliver out of our hand ? Where is the reward of all your praying 
and beseeching ? Taunting questions of this sort they thrust into the faces of 
weak but gracious souls, and tempt them to feel ashamed of their refuge. Let us 
not be laughed out of our confidence by them, let us scorn their scorning and defy 
their jeers ; we shall need to wait but a little, and then the Lord our refuge will 
avenge his own elect and ease himself of his adversaries, who once made so light 
of him and of his people. 

7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion ! when the LORD 
bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall 
be glad. 


Natural enough is this closing prayer, for what would so effectually convince 
atheists, overthrow persecutors, stay sin, and secure the godly, as the manifest 
appearance of Israel s great Salvation ? The coming of Messiah was the desire of 
the godly in all ages, and though he has already come with a sin-offering to purge 
away iniquity, we look for him to come a second time, to come without a sin-offering 
unto salvation. O that these weary years would have an end I Why tarries he so 
long ? He knows that sin abounds and that his people are down-trodden ; why 
comes he not to the rescue ? His glorious advent will restore his ancient people 
from literal captivity, and his spiritual seed from spiritual sorrow. Wrestling 
Jacob and prevailing Israel shall alike rejoice before him when he is revealed as 
their salvation. O that he were come ! What happy, holy, halcyon, heavenly 
days should we then see 1 But let us not count him slack, for behold, he comes, 
he comes quickly I Blessed are all they that wait for him. 


Whole Psalm. There is a peculiar mark upon this Psalm, in that it is twice 
in the Book of Psalms. The fourteenth Psalm and the fifty-third Psalm are the 
same with the alteration of one or two expressions at most. And there is another 
mark put upon it, that the apostle transcribes a great part of it. Rom. iii. 10 12. 

It contains a description of a most deplorable state of things in the world 
ay, in Israel ; a most deplorable state, by reason of the general corruption that 
was befallen all sorts of men, in their principles, and in their practices, and in their 

First, it was a time when there was a mighty prevalent principle of atheism 
got into the world, got among the great men of the world. Saith he, " That is their 
principle, they say in their hearts, There is no God. " It is true, they did not 
absolutely profess it ; but it was the principle whereby all their actings were regulated 
and which they conformed unto. " The fool," saith he, " hath said in his heart, 
There, is no God." Not this or that particular man, but the fool that is, those 
foolish men ; for in the next word he tells you " They are corrupt ; " and verse 3, 
" They are all gone aside." " The fool " is taken indefinitely for the great company 
and society of foolish men, to intimate that whatsoever they were divided about 
else, they were all agreed in this. "They are all a company of atheists," saith he, 
" practical atheists." 

Secondly, their affections were suitable to this principle, as all men s affections 
and actions are suitable to their principles. What are you to expect from men 
whose principle is, that there is no God ? Why, saith he, for their affections, " They 
are corrupt ; " which he expresseth again (verse 3), " They are all gone aside, they 
are all together become filthy." " All gone aside." The word in the original is, 
" They are all grown sour ; " as drink, that hath been formerly of some use, but 
when grown vapid lost all its spirits and life it is an insipid thing, good for nothing. 
And, saith he, "They are altogether become filthy" "become stinking," as the 
margin hath it. They have corrupt affections, that have left them no life, no savour ; 
but stinking, corrupt lusts prevail in them universally. They say, " There is no 
God ; " and they are filled with stinking, corrupt lusts. 

Thirdly, if this be their principle and these their affections, let us look after 
their actions, to see if they be any better. But consider their actions. They be 
of two sorts : 1. How they act in the world, 2. How they act towards the people 
of God. 

1 . How do they act in the world ? Why, consider that, as to their duties which 
they omit, and as to the wickednesses which they perform. What good do they 
do ? Nay, saith he, "None of them doeth good." Yea, some of them. "No, not 
one." Saith he, verses 1, 3, " There is none that doeth good, no, not one." If 
there was any one among them that did attend to what was really good and useful 
in the world, there was some hope. " No," saith he, " their principle is atheism, 
their affections are corrupt ; and for good, there is not one of them doeth any good 
they omit all duties." 


What do they do for evil ? Why saith he, " They have done abominable works " 
" works." saith he, " not to be named, not to be spoken of works which God 
abhors, which all good men abhor." "Abominable works," saith he, "such as the 
very light of nature would abhor ; " and give me leave to use the expression of the 
Psalmist " Stinking, filthy works." So he doth describe the state and condition 
of things under the reign of Saul, when he wrote this Psalm. 

2. " If thus it be with them, and if thus it be with their own ways, yet they 
let the people of God alone ; they will not add that to the rest of their sins." Nay, 
it is quite otherwise, saith he, " They eat up my people as they eat bread." " Those 
workers of iniquity have no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, 
and call not upon the LORD." What is the reason why he brings it in in that manner ? 
Why could he not say, " They have no knowledge that do such abominable things ; " 
but brings it in thus, " They have no knowledge who eat up my people as they eat 
bread " ? " It is strange, that after all my dealings with them and declaration 
of my will, they should be so brutish as not to know this would be their ruin. Don t 
they know this will devour them, destroy them, and be called over again in a par 
ticular manner ? " In the midst of all the sins, and greatest and highest provoca 
tions that are in the world, God lays a special weight upon the eating of his people. 
They may feed upon their own lusts what they will ; but, " Have they no knowledge, 
that they eat up my people as they eat bread ? " 

There are very many things that might be observed from all this ; but I aim to 
give but a few hints from the Psalm. 

Well, what is the state of things now ? You see what it was with them. How 
was it with the providence of God in reference unto them ? Which is strange, and 
a man would scarce believe it in such a course as this is, he tells you (verse 5), not 
withstanding all this, they were in great fear. " There were they in great fear," 
saith he. May be so, for they saw some evil coming upon them. No, there was 
nothing but the hand of God in it ; for in Psalm liii. 5, where these words are repeated, 
it is, " There were they in great fear, where no fear was " no visible cause of fear ; 
yet they were in great fear. 

God by his providence seldom gives an absolute, universal security unto men 
in their height of sin, and oppression, and sensuality, and lusts ; but he will secretly 
put them in fear where no fear is : and though there be nothing seen that should 
cause them to have any fear, they shall act like men at their wits end with fear. 

But whence should this fear arise ? Saith he, it ariseth from hence, "For God 
is in the generation of the righteous." Plainly they see their work doth not go on ; 
their meat doth not digest with them ; their bread doth not go well down. " They 
were eating and devouring my people, and when they came to devour them, they 
found God was among them (they could not digest their bread) ; and this put them 
in fear ; quite surprised them." They came, and thought to have found them a 
sweet morsel : when engaged, God was there filling their mouth and teeth with 
gravel ; and he began to break out the jawbone of the terrible ones when they came 
to feed upon them. Saith he, " God was there." (Verse 5.) 

The Holy Ghost gives an account of the state of things that was between those two 
sorts of people he had described between the fool and the people of God them 
that were devouring, and them that had been utterly devoured, had not God been 
among them. Both were in fear they that were to be devoured, and those that 
did devour. And they took several ways for their relief ; and he showeth what 
those ways were, and what judgment they made upon the ways of one another. 
Saith he, " Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge." 

There are the persons spoken of they are " the poor ; " and that is those who 
are described in the verses foregoing, the people that were ready to be eaten up 
and devoured. 

And there is the hope and refuge that these poor had in such a time as this, 
when all things were in fear ; and that was " the LORD." The poor maketh the 
Lord his refuge. 

And you may observe here, that as he did describe all the wicked as one man, 
" the fool," so he describes all his own people as one man, " the poor " that is, 
the poor man : " Because the LORD is his refuge." He keeps it in the singular 
number. Whatsoever the people of God may differ in, they are all as one man in 
this business. 

And there is the way whereby these poor make God their refuge. They do it 
by " counsel," saith he. It is not a thing they do by chance, but they look upon 


H as their wisdom. They do it upon consideration, upon advice. It is a thing of 
great wisdom. 

Well, what thoughts have the others concerning this acting of theirs ? The 
poor make God their refuge ; and they do it by counsel. What judgment, now, 
doth the world make of this counsel of theirs ? Why, they " shame it ; " that is, they 
east shame upon it, contemn it as a very foolish thing, to make the Lord their refuge. 
" Truly, if they could make this or that great man their refuge, it were something ; 
but to make the Lord their refuge, this is the foolishest thing in the world," say they. 
To shame men s counsel, to despise their counsel as foolish, is as great contempt as 
they can lay upon them. 

Here you see the state of things as they are represented in this Psalm, and spread 
before the Lord ; which being laid down, the Psalmist showeth what our duty is 
upon such a state of things what is the duty of the people of God, things being thus 
stated. Saith he, " Their way is to go to prayer : " verse 7, " O that the salvation of 
Israel were come out of Zion ! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, 
Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." If things are thus stated, then cry, then 
pray, " O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion," etc. There shall a 
revenue of praise come to God out of Zion, to the rejoicing of his people. John 

Verse 1. " The fool." That sapless fellow, that carcase of a man, that walking 
sepulchre of himself, in whom all religion and right reason is withered and wasted, 
dried up and decayed. That apostate in whom natural principles are extinct, and 
from whom God is departed, as when the prince is departed, hangings are taken 
down. That mere animal that hath no more than a reasonable soul, and for little 
other purpose than as salt, to keep his body from putrefying. That wicked man 
hereafter described, that studieth atheism. John Trapp. 

Verse 1. " The fool," etc. The world we live in is a world of fools. The far 
greater part of mankind act a part entirely irrational. So great is their infatuation, 
that they prefer time to eternity, momentary enjoyments to those that shall never 
have an end, and listen to the testimony of Satan in preference to that of God. 
Of all folly, that is the greatest, which relates to eternal objects, because it is the 
most fatal and when persisted in through life, entirely remediless. A mistake in 
the management of temporal concerns may be afterwards rectified. At any rate, it 
is comparatively of little importance. But an error in spiritual and eternal matters, 
as it is in itself of the greatest moment, if carried through life, can never be remedied ; 
because after death there is no redemption. The greatest folly that any creature 
is capable of, is that of denying or entertaining unjust apprehensions of the being and 
perfections of the great Creator. Therefore, in a way of eminence, the appellation of 
fool is given by the Spirit of God, to him who is chargeable with this guilt. "The 
fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." John Jamieson, M.A., 1789. 

Verse 1. " The fool," a term in Scripture signifying a wicked man, used also by 
the heathen philosophers to signify a vicious person, Saj as coming from Sai signifies 
the extinction of life in men, animals, and plants ; so the word Sai is taken, Isaiah 
xl. 7, r? ">3j " the flower fadeth " (Isaiah xxviii. 1), a plant that hath lost all that 
juice that made it lovely and useful. So a fool is one that hath lost his wisdom and 
right notion of God and divine things, which were communicated to man by creation ; 
one dead in sin, yet one not so much void of rational faculties, as of grace in those 
faculties ; not one that wants reason, but abuses his reason. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said," etc. This folly is bound up in every heart. 
It is bound, but it is not tongue-tied ; it speaks blasphemous things against God, 
it says there is "no God." There is a difference indeed in the language : gross sins 
speak this louder, there are crying sins ; but though less sins speak it not so loud 
they whisper it. But the Lord can hear the language of the heart, the whisperings 
of its motions, as plainly as we hear one another in our ordinary discourse. Oh, how 
heinous is the least sin, which is so injurious to the very being of the great God I 
David Clarkson. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." If you will turn 
over some few leaves as far as the fifty-third Psalm, you shall not only find my text, 
but this whole Psalm, without any alteration, save only in the fifth verse, and that 
mot at all in the sense neither. What shall we say ? Took the Holy Spirit of God 
such especial particular notice of the sayings and deeds of a fool, that one expression 
f them would not serve the turn ? Or, does the babbling and madness of a fool 


so much concern us, as that we need to have them urged upon us once and again, 
and a third time In the third of the Romans ? Surely not any one of us present 
here, is this fool I Nay, if any one of us could but tell where to find such a fool as 
this, that would offer to say, though in his heart, " There is no God," he .should not rest 
in quiet, he should soon perceive we were not of his faction, We that are able to 
tell David an article or two of faith more than ever he was acquainted with ! Nay, 
more ; can we with any imaginable ground of reason be supposed liable to any sus 
picion of atheism, that are able to read to David a lecture out of his own Psalms, 
and explain the meaning of his own prophecies much clearer than himself which 
held the pen to the Holy Spirit of God ? Though we cannot deny but that in other 
things there may be found some spice of folly and imperfection in us, but it cannot 
be imagined that we, who are almost cloyed with the heavenly manmi of God s 
word, that can instruct our teachers, and are able to maintain opinions and tenets, 
the scruples whereof not both the universities in this land, nor the whole clergy are 
able to resolve, that it should be possible for us ever to come to that perfection and 
excellency of folly and madness, as to entertain thought that there is no God : nay, 
we are not so uncharitable as to charge a Turk or an infidel with such a horrible 
imputation as this. 

Beloved Christians, be not wise in your own conceits : if you will seriously 
examine the third of Romans (which I mentioned before), you shall find that Paul, 
out of this Psalm, and the like words of Isaiah, doth conclude the whole posterity 
of Adam (Christ only excepted), under sin and the curse of God ; which inference 
of his were weak and inconcluding, unless every man of his own nature were such a 
one as the prophet here describes ; and the same apostle in another place expresses, 
" Even altogether without God in the world," i.e., not maintaining it as an opinion 
which they would undertake by force of argument to confirm, That there is no God : 
for we read not of above three or four among the heathens that were of any fashion, 
which went thus far ; but such as though in their discourse and serious thoughts 
they do not question a deity, but would abhor any man that would not liberally 
allow unto God all his glorious attributes, yet in their hearts and affections they 
deny him ; they live as if there was no God, having no respect at all to him in all 
their projects and therefore, indeed and in God s esteem, become formally, and in 
strict propriety of speech very atheists. William Chillingworth, 1602 1643. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Why do men resist 
God s authority, against which they cannot dispute ? and disobey his commands, 
unto which they cannot devise to frame an exception ? What but the spirit of 
enmity, can make them regret " so easy a yoke," reject so " light a burden," shun and 
fly off from so peaceful and pleasant paths ? yea, and take ways that so manifestly 
" take hold of hell, and lead down to the chambers of death," rather choosing to 
perish than obey ? Is not this the very height of enmity ? What further proof 
would we seek of a disaffected and implacable heart ? Yet to all this we may cast 
in that fearful addition, their saying in their heart, " No God ; " as much as to say, 
" O that there were none ! " This is enmity not only to the highest pitch of 
wickedness, to wish their common parent extinct, the author of their being, but even 
unto madness itself. For in the forgetful heat of this transport, it is not thought 
on that they wish the most absolute impossibility; and that, if it were possible, they 
wish, with his, the extinction of their own and of all being ; and that the sense of 
their hearts, put into words, would amount to no less than a direful and most 
horrid execration and curse upon God and the whole creation of God at once 1 As 
if, by the blasphemy of their poisonous breath, they would wither all nature, blast 
the whole universe of being, and make it fade, languish, and droop into nothing. 
This is to set their mouth against heaven and earth, themselves, and ail things at 
once, as if they thought their feeble breath should overpower the omnipotent Word, 
shake and shiver the adamantine pillars of heaven and earth, and the Almighty 
fiat be defeated by their nay, striking at the root of all 1 So fitly is it said " The fool 
hath in his heart " muttered thus. Nor are there few such fools ; but this is plainly 
given us as the common character of apostate man, the whole revolted race, of whom 
it is said in very general terms, " They are all gone back, there is none that doeth 
good." This is their sense, one and all, that is, comparatively ; and the true state 
of the case being laid before them, it is more their temper and sense to say, " No 
God," than to repent, " and turn to him." What mad enmity is this I Nor can 
we devise into what else to resolve it. John Howe. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." He that shall deny 


there is a God, sins with a very high hand against the light of nature ; for every 
creature, yea, the least gnat and fly, and the meanest worm that crawls upon the 
ground will confute and confound that man that disputes whether there be a God 
or no. The name of God is written in such full, fair and shining characters upon 
the whole creation, that all men may run and read that there is a God. The notion 
of a deity is so strongly and deeply impressed upon the tables of all men s hearts, 
that to deny a God is to quench the very principles of common nature ; yea, it is 
formally deicidiiim, a killing of God, as much as in the creature lies. There are none of 
these atheists in hell, for the devils believe and tremble. James ii. 19. The Greek 
word <j>pi<T<rovffi, that is here used, signifies properly the roaring of the sea ; it implies 
such an extreme fear, as causeth not only trembling, but also a roaring and screeching 
out. Mark vi. 49 ; Acts xvi. 29. The devils believe and acknowledge four articles 
of our faith. Matt. viii. 29. (1.) They acknowledge God ; (2.) Christ ; (3) The 
day of judgment; (4.) That they shall be tormented then ; so that he that doth not 
believe that there is a God, is more vile than a devil. To deny there is a God, is a 
sort of atheism that is not to be found in hell. 

" On earth are atheists many, 
In hell there is not any." 

Augustine, speaking of atheists saith, " That albeit there be some who think, or 
would persuade themselves, that there is no God, yet the most vile and desperate 
wretch that ever lived would not say, there was no God." Seneca hath a remark 
able speech, Mentiuntiir qui dicunt se non sentire Deuin esse : nam etsi tibi afjirmant 
interdiii noctu tamen dubitant. They lie, saith he, who say they perceive not there 
is a God ; for although they affirm it to thee in the daytime, yet by night they doubt 
of it. Further, saith the same author, I have heard of some that deny that there 
was a God ; yet never knew the man, but when he was sick he would seek unto 
God lor help ; therefore they do but lie that say there is no God ; they sin against 
the light of their own consciences ; they who most studiously go about to deny God, 
yet cannot do it but some check of conscience will fly in their faces. Tully would 
say that there was never any nation under heaven so barbarous as to deny that 
there was a God. T. Brooks. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Popery has not 
won to itself so great wits as atheism ; it is the superfluity of wit that makes atheists. 
These will not be beaten down with impertinent arguments ; disordered hail-shot 
of Scriptures will never scare them ; they must be convinced and beaten by their 
own weapons. " Hast thou appealed to Caesar ? To Caesar thou shalt go." Have 
they appealed to reason ? Let us bring reason to them, that we may bring them to 
reason. We need not fear the want of weapons in that armoury, but our own 
ignorance and want of skill to use them. There is enough even in philosophy to 
convince atheism, and make them confess, " We are foiled with our own weapons ;" 
for with all their wit atheists are fools. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 1. As there is no wound more mortal than that which plucketh forth 
man s heart or soul ; so, likewise, is there no person or pestilence of greater force 
suddenly in men to kill all faith, hope, and charity, with the fear of God, and con 
sequently to cast them headlong into the pit of hell, than to deny the principle and 
foundation of all religion namely, that there is a God. Robert Cawdray s 
" Treasury or Storehouse of Similes," 1609. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Who in the world 
is a verier fool, a more ignorant, wretched person, than he that is an atheist ? A 
man may better believe there is no such man as himself, and that he is not in being, 
than that there is no God ; for himself can cease to be, and once was not, and shall 
be changed from what he is, and in very many periods of his life knows not that 
he is ; and so it is every night with him when he sleeps ; but none of these can 
happen to God ; and if he knows it not, he is a fool. Can anything in this world 
be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth can come 
by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster ? To see rare 
effects, and no cause ; an excellent government and no prince ; a motion without 
an immovable ; a circle without a centre ; a time without eternity ; a second 
without a first ; a thing that begins not from itself, and therefore, not to perceive 
there is something from whence it does not begin, which must be without beginning ; 
these things are so against philosophy and natural reason, that he must needs be a 
beast in his understanding that does not assent to them ; this is the atheist : " The 


fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." That is his character ; the thing framed, 
says that nothing framed it ; the tongue never made itself to speak, and yet talks 
against him that did ; saying, that which is made, is, and that which made it, is 
not. But this folly is as infinite as hell, as much without light or bound, as the 
chaos of the primitive nothing. Jeremy Taylor, 1613 1667. 

Verse 1. " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." A wise man, that 
lives up to the principles of reason and virtue, if one considers him in his solitude 
as taking in the system of the universe, observing the mutual dependence and har 
mony by which the whole frame of it hangs together, beating down his passions, 
or swelling his thoughts with magnificent ideas of providence, makes a nobler 
figure in the eye of an intelligent being, than the greatest conqueror amidst the 
pomps and solemnities of a triumph. On the contrary, there is not a more ridiculous 
animal than an atheist in his retirement. His mind is incapable of rapture or eleva 
tion : he can only consider himself as an insignificant figure in a landscape, and 
wandering up and down in a field or a meadow, under the same terms as the meanest 
animals about him, and as subject to as total a mortality as they, with this aggrava 
tion, that he is the only one amongst them who lies under the apprehension of it. 
In distresses he must be of all creatures the most helpless and forlorn ; he feels 
the whole pressure of a present calamity, without being relieved by the memory 
of anything that is past, or the prospect of anything that is to come. Annihilation 
is the greatest blessing that he proposes to himself, and a halter or a pistol the only 
refuge he can fly to. But if you would behold one of these gloomy miscreants in 
his poorest figure, you must consider them under the terrors or at the approach of 
death. About thirty years ago, I was a shipboard with one of these vermin, when 
there arose a brisk gale, which could frighten nobody but himself. Upon the rolling 
of the ship he fell upon his knees, and confessed to the chaplain, that he had been a vile 
atheist and had denied a Supreme Being ever since he came to his estate. The good 
man was astonished, and a report immediately ran through the ship, that there 
was an atheist upon the upper deck. Several of the common seamen, who had 
never heard the word before, thought it had been some strange fish ; but they were 
more surprised when they saw it was a man, and heard out of his own mouth, " That 
he never believed till that day that there was a God." As he lay in the agonies of 
confession, one of the honest tars whispered to the boatswain, " That it would be a 
good deed to heave him overboard." But we were now within sight of port, when 
of a sudden the wind fell, and the penitent relapsed, begging all of us that were 
present, as we were gentlemen, not to say anything of what had passed. He had 
not been ashore above two days, when one of the company began to rally him upon 
his devotion on shipboard, which the other denied in so high terms, that it produced 
the lie on both sides, and ended in a duel. The atheist was run through the body, 
and after some loss of blood, became as good a Christian as he was at sea, till he 
found that his wound was not mortal. He is at present one of the free-thinkers of 
the age, and now writing a pamphlet against several received opinions concerning 
the existence of fairies. Joseph Addison (1671 1719), in " The Tattler." 
Verse 1. 

There is no God, the fool in secret said : 
There is no God that rules or earth or sky. 

Tear off the band that binds the wretch s head. 

That God may burst upon his faithless eye ! 

Is there no God ? The stars in myriads spread, 

If he look up, the blasphemy deny ; 

While his own features, in the mirror read, 

Reflect the image of Divinity. 

Is there no God ? The stream that silver flows, 

The air he breathes, the ground he treads, the trees, 

The flowers, the grass, the sands, each wind that blows, 

All speak of God ; throughout, one voice agrees, 

And, eloquent, his dread existence shows : 

Blind to thyself, ah, see him, fool, in these ! " Giovanni Cotta. 
Verse 1. 

" The owlet, Atheism, 

Sailing on obscene wings across the noon. 

Drops his blue-fringed lids, and shuts them close. 

And, hooting at the glorious sun in heaven, 

Cries out, Where is it ? " 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772 1834, 


Verse 1. " They are corrupt, they have done abominable works." Sin pleasetb 
the flesh. Omne simile nutrit simile. Corruption inherent is nourished by the 
accession of corrupt actions. Judas s covetousness is sweetened with unjust gain. 
Joab is heartened and hardened with blood. 1 Kings ii. 5. Theft is fitted to and 
fatted in the thievish heart with obvious booties. Pride is fed with the officious 
compliments of observant grooms. Extortion battens in the usurer s affections 
by the trolling in of his moneys. Sacrilege thrives in the church-robber by the 
pleasing distinctions of those sycophant priests, and helped with their not laborious 
profit. Nature is led, is fed with sense. And when the citadel of the heart is once 
won, the turret of the understanding will not long hold out. As the suffumigations 
of the oppressed stomach surge up and cause the headache, or as the thick spumy 
mists, which vapour up from the dark and foggy earth, do often suffocate the brighter 
air, and to us more than eclipse the sun, the black and corrupt affections, which 
ascend out of the nether part of the soul, do no less darken and choke the under 
standing. Neither can the fire of grace be kept alive at God s altar (man s heart), 
when the clouds of lust shall rain down such showers of impiety on it. Perit omne 
judicium, cum res transit ad affectum. Farewell the perspicuity of judgment, when the 
matter is put to the partiality of affection. Thomas Adams. 

Verse 1. " They are corrupt, they have done abominable things : there is none that 
doeth good." " Men," says Bernard, " because they are corrupt in their minds, 
become abominable in their doings : corrupt before God, abominable before men. 
There are three sorts of men of which none doeth good. There are those who neither 
understand nor seek God, and they are the dead : there are others who understand 
him, but seek him not, and they are the wicked. There are others that seek him 
but understand him not, and they are the fools." " O God," cries a writer of the 
middle ages, " how many are here at this day who, under the name of Christianity, 
worship idols, and are abominable both to thee and to men ! For every man 
worships that which he most loves. The proud man bows down before the idol of 
worldly power ; the covetous man before the idol of money ; the adulterer before 
the idol of beauty ; and so of the rest." And of such, saith the apostle, " They 
profess that they know God, but in works deny him, being abominable and dis 
obedient, and unto every good work reprobate." Titus i. 16. " There is none that 
doeth good." Notice how Paul avails himself of this testimony of the epistle to the 
Romans, where he is proving concerning " both Jews and Gentiles, that they are 
all under sin." Rom. iii. 9. John Mason Neale, in loc. 

Verse 1. The argument of my text is the atheist s divinity, the brief of his belief 
couched all in one article, and that negative too, clean contrary to the fashion of 
all creeds, " There is no God." The article but one ; but so many absurdities tied 
to the train of it, and itself so irreligious, so prodigiously profane, that he dares 
not speak it out, but saith it softly to himself, in secret, " in his heart." So the 
text yields these three points ; Who is he ? A " fool." What he saith, " no God." 
How he speaks it, " in his heart." A fool, his bolt, and his draught. I will speak 

of them severally There is a child in years, and there is a child in manners, 

Ktate et moribus, saith Aristotle. So there is a fool ; for fools and children both are 
called vyTioi. There is a fool in wit, and there is a fool in life ; stultus in scientia, 
et stultus in conscientia, a witless and a graceless fool. The latter is worthy of the 
title as the first ; both void of reason ; not of the faculty but of the use. Yea, the 
latter fool is indeed the more kindly of the twain ; for the sot would use his reason 
if he could ; the sinner will not though he may. It is not the natural, but the moral 
fool that David means, the wicked and ungracious person, for so is the sense of the 

original term It is time we leave the person, and come unto the act. What 

hath this fool done ? Surely nothing ; he hath only said. What hath he said ? 
Nay, nothing either ; he hath only thought : for to say in heart, is but to think. 
There are two sorts of saying in the Scripture, one meant indeed so properly, the 
other but in hope ; one by word of mouth, the other by thought of heart. You see 
the Psalmist means here the second sort. The bolt the fool here shoots is atheism : 
he makes no noise at the loss of it, as bowmen use ; he draws and delivers closely, 
and stilly, out of sight, and without sound : he saith, " God is not," but " in heart." 
The heart hath a mouth ; intus est os cordis, saith Augustine. God, saith Cyprian, 
fe cordis auditor, he hears the heart ; then belike it hath some speech. When God 
aid to Moses, quare clamas ? why criest thou ? we find no words he uttered : silens 
auditur, saith Gregory, he is heard through saying nothing. There is a silent 
speech (Psalm iv. 4), " Commune with your own heart," saith David, " and be 


still." Speech is not the heart s action, no more than meditation is the mouth s. 
But sometimes the heart and mouth exchange offices ; lingua mea meditabilur, 
saith David. Psalm xxxv. 28. There is lingua meditans, a musing tongue ; here is 
tor loquens, a speaking heart. And to say the truth, the philosopher saith well, 
it is the heart doth all things, mens videt, mens audit, mens loquitur. It is the heart 
that speaks, the tongue is but the instrument to give the sound. It is but the 
heart s echo to repeat the words after it. Except when the tongue doth run before 
the wit, the heart doth dictate to the mouth ; it suggests what it shall say. The 
heart is the soul s herald : look what she will have proclaimed, the heart reads it r 
and the mouth cries it. The tongue saith nought but what the heart saith first. 
Nay, in very deed, the truest and kindest speech is the heart s. The tongue and 
lips are Jesuits, they lease, and lie, and use equivocations : flattery, or fear, or other 
by-respect, other wry respect adulterate their words. But the heart speaks as it 
means, worth twenty mouths, if it could speak audibly. Richard Clerke. D.D., 
1634 (one of the translators of our English Bible). 

Verses 1, 4. The Scripture give this as a cause ol the notorious courses of wicked 
*ien, that " God is not in all their thoughts." Psalm x. 4. They forget there is a 
God of vengeance and a day of reckoning. " The fool " would needs enforce upon 
his heart, that " there is no God," and what follows : " Corrupt they are, there is none 
doeth good : they eat up my people as bread," etc. They make no more bones of 
devouring men and their estates, than they make conscience of eating a piece of 
bread. What a wretched condition hath sin brought man unto, that the great 
God who " filleth heaven and earth " (Jer. xxiii. 24) should yet have no place in 
the heart which he hath especially made for himself 1 The sun is not so clear as 
this truth, that God is, for all things in the world are because God is. If he were 
not, nothing could be. It is from him that wicked men have that strength they 
have to commit sin, therefore sin proceeds from atheism, especially these plotting 
sins ; for if God were more thought on, he would take off the soul from sinful con- 
trivings, and fix it upon himself. Richard Sibbes. 

Verse 2. " To see if there were any that did understand . . seek God." None, 
seek him aright, and as he ought to be sought, nor can do while they live in sin ; 
for men in seeking God fail in many things : as, First, men seek him not for himself. 
Secondly, they seek him not alone, but other things with him. Thirdly, they seek 
other things before him, as worldlings do. Fourthly, they seek him coldly or care- 
kssly. Fifthly, they seek him inconstantly ; example of Judas and Demas, 
Sixthly, they seek him not in his word, as heretics do. Seventhly, they seek him 
not in all his word, as hypocrites do. Lastly, they seek him not seasonably and 
timely, as profane, impenitent sinners do ; have no care to depend upon God s 
word, but follow their own lusts and fashions of this world. Thomas Wilson, 1653. 

Verses 2, 3. What was the issue of God s so looking upon men ? " They are 
all gone aside," that is, from him and his ways ; " They are altogether become filthy ; " 
their practices are such as make them stink ; " There is none that doeth good, no r 
not one ; " of so many millions of men as are upon the earth, there is not one doeth 
good. There were men of excellent parts then in the world, men of soul, but 
not one of them did know God, or seek after God : Paul therefore hath laid it down 
for a universal maxim, that the animal, natural, or intellectual man, receives not 
the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him, and so are rejected 
by him. William Greenhill. 

Verse 3. The ungodly are " vile " persons (Nah. i. 14). " I will make thy 
grave ; for thou art vile." Sin makes men base, it blots their name, it taints their 
blood : " They are altogether become filthy ; " in the Hebrew it is, they are become 
stinking. Call wicked men ever so bad, you cannot call them out of their name ; 
they are " swine " (Matt. vii. 6) ; " vipers " (Matt. iii. 7) ; " devils " (John vi. 70). 
The wicked are the dross and refuse (Psa. cxix. 119) ; and heaven is too pure to 
have any dross mingle with it. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 3. " Altogether become filthy." Thus the Roman satirist describes his own- 
age : 

" Nothing is left, nothing, for future times 
To add to the full catalogue of crimes ; 
The baffled sons must feel the same desires, 
And act the same mad follies as their sires. 
Vice has attained its zenith." Juvenal, Sat. 1. 


Verse 3. " There is none that doeth good, no not one." Origen maketh a question 
how it could be said that there was none, neither among the Jews nor Gentiles, 
that did any good; seeing there were many among them which did clothe the naked, 
feed the hungry, and did other good things : he hereunto maketh this answer : 
That like as one that layeth a foundation, and buildeth upon it a wall or two, yet 
cannot be said to have built a house till he have finished it ; so although those 
might do some good things, yet they attained not unto perfect goodness, which 
was only to be found in Christ. But this is not the apostle s meaning only to 
exclude men from the perfection of justice ; for even the faithful and believers 
were short of that perfection which is required ; he therefore showeth what men 
are by nature, all under sin and in the same state of damnation, without grace and 
faith in Christ : if any perform any good work, either it is of grace, and so not of 
themselves, or if they did it by the light of nature, they did it not as they ought, 
and so it was far from a good work indeed. Andrew Willet (1562 1621), on 
Romans Hi, 10. 

Verse 4. " Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge ? " Men s ignorance is 
the reason why they fear not what they should fear. Why is it that the ungodly 
fear not sin ? Oh, it s because they know it not. " Have the workers of iniquity no 
knowledge ? " Sure enough they have none, for " they eat up my people as they eat 
bread ; " such morsels would scald their mouths, they would not dare to be such 
persecutors and destroyers of the people of God ; they would be afraid to touch 
them if they did but know what they did. Richard Alleine. 

Verse 4. " Who eat up my people as they eat bread." That is, quotidie, daily, 
saith Austin ; as duly as they eat bread ; or, with the same eagerness and voracity. 
These man-eaters, these \aop6poi, cruel cannibals, make no more conscience to 
undo a poor man, than to eat a good meal when they are hungry. Like pickerels 
in a pond, or sharks in the sea, they devour the poorer, as those do the lesser fishes ; 
and that many times with a plausible, invisible consumption ; as the usurer, who, 
like the ostrich, can digest any metal ; but especially money. John Trapp. 

Verse 4. " Who eat up my people as they eat bread." Oh, how few consult and 
believe the Scriptures setting forth the enmity of wicked men against God s people I 
The Scripture tells us " they eat up God s people as bread," which implies a strange 
inclination in them to devour the saints, and that they take as great delight therein 
as a hungry man in eating, and that it is natural to them to molest them. The 
Scripture compares them, for their hateful qualities, to the lions and bears, to foxes 
for subtlety, to wild bulls, to greedy swine, to scorpions, to briers and thorns 
(grievous and vexing things). The Scripture represents them as industrious and 
unwearied in their bloody enterprises, they cannot sleep without doing mischief. 
Herodias had rather have the blood of a saint than half a kingdom. Haman would 
pay a great fine to the king that the scattered Jews (who keep not the king s laws) 
may be cut off. Wicked men will run the hazard of damning their own souls, rather 
than not fling a dagger at the apple of God s eye. Though they know what one 
word aha ! cost, yet they will break through all natural, civil, and moral obliga 
tions, to ruin God s people. The Holy Ghost calls them " implacable " men, fierce 
and headstrong ; they are like the hot oven for fury, like the sea for boundless 
rage ; yet " who hath believed " this Scripture " report " ? Did we believe what 
enemies all wicked men are unto all saints, we should not lean to our own 
prudence and discretion to secure us from any danger by these men ; we would 
get an ark to secure us from the deluge of their wrath ; if at any time we be cast 
among them and delivered, we would bless God with the three children, that the 
hot fiery oven did not consume us ; we would not wonder when we hear of any of 
their barbarous cruelty, but rather wonder at God s restraining them every day ; we 
would be suspicious of receiving hurt when cast among light and frothy companions ; 
we would shun their company as we do lions and scorpions ; we would never commit 
any trust or secret into their hands ; we would not be light-hearted whilst in their 
society ; we would not rely on their promises any more than we would on the promise 
of the devil, their father ; we would long for heaven, to be delivered from " the 
tents of Kedar ; " we would not count any of the saints secured from danger, though 
related to any great wicked man ; we would not twist ourselves with them by 
matching ourselves or children to these sons and daughters of Belial ; neither would 
we make choice of devils to be our servants. Lewis Stuckley. 

Verse 4. This is an evil world. It hates the people of God. " Because ye are 


not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John xv. 19. Haman s hatred 
was against the whole seed of the Jews. When you can find a serpent without a 
sting, or a leopard without spots, then may you expect to find a wicked world with 
out hatred to the saints. Piety is the target which is aimed at. " They are mine 
adversaries because I follow the thing that good is." Psalm xxxviii. 20. The world 
pretends to hate the godly for something else, but the ground of the quarrel is holiness. 
The world s hatred is implacable : anger may be reconciled, hatred cannot. You 
may as soon reconcile heaven and hell as the two seeds. If the world hated Christ, 
no wonder that it hates us. " The world hated me before it hated you." John 
xv. 18. Why should any hate Christ? This blessed Dove had no gall, this rose of 
Sharon did send forth a most sweet perfume ; but this shows the world s baseness, 
it is a Christ-hating and a saint-eating world. Thomas Watson. 

Verse 5. " There were they in great fear." That we may not mistake the meaning 
of the point, we must understand that this faintheartedness and cowardliness doth 
not always come upon presumptuous sinners when they behold imminent dangers, 
for though none of them have true courage and fortitude, yet many of them have a 
kind of desperate stoutness and resolution when they do, as it were, see death present 
before their faces ; which proceedeth from a kind of deadness that is upon their 
hearts, and a brawniness that hath overgrown their conscience to their greater 
condemnation. But when it pleaseth the Lord to waken them out of the dead 
slumber, and to set the worm of conscience awork within them, then this doctrine 
holdeth true without any exception, that the boldest sinners prove at length the 
basest cowards : and they that have been most audacious in adventuring upon 
the most mischievous evils, do become of all others most timorous when God s 
revenging hand seizeth upon them for the same. John Dod, 1547 1645. 

Verse 5. " God is in the generation of the righteous ; " that is, he favours that 
generation or sort of men ; God is in all generations, but such he delights in most : 
the wicked have cause enough to fear those in whom God delights. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 5. The King of Glory cannot come into the heart (as he is is said to come 
into the hearts of his people as such ; Psalm xxiv. 9, 10), but some glory of himself 
will appear ; and as God doth accompany the word with majesty because it is his 
word, so he doth accompany his own children, and their ways, with majesty, yea, 
even in their greatest debasements. As when Stephen was brought before the 
council as a prisoner at the bar for his life, then God manifested his presence to him, 
for it is said, " his face shone as the face of an angel of God." ( Acts vi. 15) ; in a 
proportionable manner it is ordinarily true what Solomon says of all righteous men, 
" A man s wisdom makes his face to shine." Eccles. viii. 1. Thus Peter also speaks 
(1 Peter iv. 14) : " If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you, 
for the Spirit," not only of God, or of grace, but " of glory, resteth upon you." And 
so in the martyrs ; their innocency and carriage, and godly behaviour, what majesty 
had it with it I What an amiableness in the sight of the people, which daunted, 
dashed and confounded their most wretched oppressors ; so that although the 
wicked persecutors " did eat up God s people as bread " (verse 4), yet it is added that 
they were in great fear upon this very account, that " God is in the generation of the 
just." Verse 5. God stands, as it were, astonished at their dealings : " Have 
the workers of iniquity no knowledge," (so in the words afore) " that eat up my people 
as bread," and make no more ado of it than a man doth that heartily eats of his 
meat ? They seem to do thus, they would carry it and bear it out ; but for all 
that they are in great fear whilst they do thus, and God strikes their hearts with 
terror then when they most insult. Why ? For, " God is in the generation of, or 
dwelleth in the just," and God gives often some glimmerings, hints, and warnings 
to the wicked (such as Pilate had concerning Christ), that his people are righteous. 
And this you may see in Phil. i. 28 : " And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, 
which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that 
of God." In that latter passage, I observe that an assurance of salvation, and a 
spirit of terror, and that of God, is given to either. In the Old Testament it is 
recorded of David (1 Sam. xviii. 12), that although Saul hated him (verse 9), and 
sought to destroy him (verses 10, 11), " yet Saul was afraid of David, because 
the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul ; " which is the reason in 
hand. God manifested his presence in David, and struck Saul s conscience with his 
godly and wise carriage, and that made him afraid. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 6. " Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge. " 


In the fifty-third Psalm it is, " Thou hast put them to shame, because God hath 
despised them." Of course, the allusion is totally different in each ; in this Psalm 
it is the indignant remonstrance of the Psalmist with " the workers of iniquity " 
for undervaluing and putting God s poor to shame ; the other affirms the final 
shame and confusion of the ungodly, and the contempt in which the Lord holds them. 
In either case it sweetly illustrates God s care of his poor, not merely the poor in 
spirit, but literally the poor and lowly ones, the oppressed and the injured. It is 
this character of God which is so conspicuously delineated in his word. We may look 
through all the Shasters and Vedas of the Hindoo, the Koran of the Mahometan, 
the legislation of the Greek, and the code of the Roman, aye, and the Talmud of 
the Jew, the bitterest of all ; and not in one single line or page shall we find a vestige 
or trace of that tenderness, compassion, or sympathy for the wrongs, and oppressions, 
and trials, and sorrows of God s poor, which the Christian s Bible evidences in almost 
every page. Barton Bouchier. 

Verse 6. " Ye have shamed." Every fool that saith in his heart there is no God, 
hath out of the same quiver a bolt to shoot at goodness. Barren Michal hath too 
many sons, who, like their mother, jeer at holy David. John Trapp. 

Verse 6. " Ye have shamed," saith he, "the counsel of the poor." There is nothing 
that wicked men do so despise as the making God a refuge nothing which they 
scorn in their hearts like it. " They shame it," saith he, " It is a thing to be cast 
out of all consideration. The wise man trusts in his wisdom, the strong man in his 
strength, the rich man in his riches ; but this trusting in God is the foolishest thing 
in the world." The reasons of it are 1. They know not God ; and it is a foolish 
thing to trust one knows not whom. 2. They are enemies to God, and God is their 
enemy ; and they account it a foolish thing to trust their enemy. 3. They know 
not the way of God s assistance and help. And 4. They seek for such help, such 
assistance, such supplies as God will not give ; to be delivered, to serve their lusts ; 
to be preserved, to execute their rage, filthiness, and folly. They have no other 
design or end of these things ; and God will give none of them. And it is a foolish 
thing in any man to trust God to be preserved in sin. It is true their folly is their 
wisdom, considering their state and condition. It is a folly to trust in God to live 
in sin, and despise the counsel of the poor. John Owen. 

Verse 6. " Ye have made a mock of the counsel of the poor : " and why ? " because 
the Lord is his trust." This is the very true cause, whatsoever other pretences there 
be. Whence observe this doctrine ; that true godliness is that which breeds the 
quarrel between God s children and the wicked. Ungodly men may say what they 
list, as, namely, that they hate and dislike them for that they are proud and saucy in 
meddling with their betters ; for that they are so scornful and disdainful towards 
their neighbours ; for that they are malcontent, and turbulent, and I know not 
what ; but the true reason is yielded by the Lord in this place, to wit, because they 
make him their stay and their confidence, and will not depend upon lying vanities 
as the men of the world do. John Dod. 

Verse 6. " The Lord is his refuge." Be persuaded actually to hide yourselves 
with Jesus Christ. To have a hiding-place and not to use it, is as bad as to want 
one ; fly to Christ ; run into the holes of this Rock. Ralph Robinson, 1656. 

Verse 7. " O that the salvation," etc. Like as when we be in quiet, we do pray 
either nothing at all, or very coldly unto God ; so in adversity and trouble, our 
spirit is stirred up and enkindled to prayer, whereof we do find examples everywhere 
in the Psalms of David : so that affliction is as it were the sauce of prayer, as hunger 
is unto meat. Truly their prayer is usually unsavoury who are without afflictions, 
and many of them do not pray truly, but do rather counterfeit a prayer, or pray 
for custom. Wolfgang Musculus, 1497 1563. 

Verse 7. " Out of Zion." Zion the church is no Saviour, neither dare we trust 
in her ministers or ordinances, and yet salvation comes to men through her. The 
hungry multitudes are fed by the hands of the disciples, who delight to act as the 
servitors of the gospel feast. Zion becomes the site of the fountain of healing waters 
which shall flow east and west till all nations drink thereat. What a reason for 
maintaining in the utmost purity and energy all the works of the church of the 
living God ! C. H. S. 

Verse 1. " When the Lord turneth the captivity of his people : then shall Jacob 
rejoice and Israel shall be glad." Notice that by Israel we are to understand those 
other sheep which the Lord has that are not of this fold, but which he must also 


bring, that they may hear his voice. For it is Israel, not Judah ; Slon, not Jerusalem. 
" When the Lord turneth the captivity of his people." " Then," as it is in the parallel 
passage, " were we like unto them that dream." A glorious dream indeed, in which, 
fancy what we may, the half of the beauty, the half of the splendour, will not be 
reached by our imagination. " The captivity " of our souls to the law of concupis 
cence, of our bodies to the law of death ; the captivity of our senses to fear ; the 
captivity, the conclusion of which is so beautifully expressed by one of our greatest 
poets : namely, Giles Fletcher (1588 1623), in his " Christ s Triumph over Death." 

" No sorrow now hangs clouding on their brow ; 
No bloodless malady impales their face ; 
No age drops on their hairs his silver snow ; 
No nakedness their bodies doth embrace ; 
No poverty themselves and theirs disgrace ; 
No fear of death the joy of life devours ; 
No unchaste sleep their precious time deflowers ; 
No loss, no grief, no change, wait on their winged hours." 

John Mason tfeale, in toe. 


Verse 1 (first clause). The folly of atheism. 

Verse 1. Atheism of the heart. Jamieson s Sermons on the Heart. 

Verse 1 (whole verse). Describe : I. The creed of the fool. II. The fool who 
holds the creed : or thus, Atheism. I. Its source : " the heart." II. Its creed : 
" no God." III. Its fruits : " corrupt," etc. 

Verse 1. I. The great source of sin alienation from God. II. Its place 
of dominion the heart. III. Its effect upon the intellect makes man a fool. 
IV. Its manifestations in the life acts of commission and omission. 

Verse 1 (last clause). The lantern of Diogenes. Hold it up upon all classes, 
and denounce their sins. 

Verse 2. I. Condescending search. II. Favoured subjects. III. Generous 

Verse 2. What God looks for, and what we should look for. Men usually 
are quick to see things congruous to their own character. 

Verses 2, 3. God s search for a naturally good man ; the results ; lessons to be 
learned therefrom. 

Verse 3. Total depravity of the race. 

Verse 4. " Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge ? " If men rightly 
knew God, his law, the evil of sin, the torment of hell, and other great truths, would 
they sin as they do ? Or if they know these and yet continue in their iniquities, 
how guilty and foolish they are I Answer the question both positively and nega 
tively, and it supplies material for a searching discourse. 

Verse 4. (first clause). The crying sin of transgressing against light and know 

Verse 4 (last clause). Absence of prayer, a sure mark of a graceless state. 

Verse 5. The foolish fears of those who have no fear of God. 

Verse 5. The Lord s nearness to the righteous, its consequences to the per 
secutor, and its encouragement to saints. 

Verse 6. The wisdom of making the Lord our refuge. John Owen. 

Verse 6. Describe I. The poor man here intended. II. His counsel. III. His 
reproach. IV. His refuge. 

Verse 6. Trust in God, a theme for mockery to iools only. Show its wisdom. 

Verse 7. Longings for the Advent. 

Verse 7. " Out of Zion." The church, the channel of blessings to men. 

Verse 7. Discourse to promote revival. I. Frequent condition of the church, 
" captivity." II. Means of revival the Lord s coming in grace. III. Con 
sequences, " rejoice," " be glad." 

Verse 1. Captivity of soul. What It is. How provided ior. How accom 
plished. With what results. 


SUBJECT, &c. This Psalm of David bears no dedicatory title at all indicative of 
the occasion upon which it was written, but it is exceedingly probable that, together with 
the twenty-fourth Psalm, to which it bears a striking resemblance, its composition was 
in some way connected with the removal of the ark to the holy hill of Zion. Who should 
attend upon the ark was a matter of no small consequence, for because unauthorised 
persons had intruded into the office, David was unable on the first occasion to complete 
his purpose of bringing the ark to Zion. On the second attempt he is more careful, not 
only to allot the work of carrying the ark to the divinely appointed Levites (1 Chron. 
xv. 2), but also to leave it in charge of the man whose house the Lord had blessed, even 
Obededom, who, with his many sons, ministered in the house of the Lord. (1 Chron. 
xxvi. 8, 12.) Spiritually we have here a description of the man who is a child at home in 
the Church of God on earth, and who will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever above. He 
is primarily Jesus, the perfect man, and in him all who through grace are conformed 
to his image. 

DIVISION. The first verse asks the question ; the rest of the verses answer it. We 
will call the Psalm THE QUESTION AND ANSWER. 


LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy 

1. THE QUESTION. Jehovah. Thou high and holy One, who shall be permitted 
to have fellowship with thee ? The heavens are not pure in thy sight, and thou 
chargedst thine angels with folly, who then of mortal mould shall dwell with thee, 
thou dread consuming fire ? A sense of the glory of the Lord and of the holiness 
which becomes his house, his service, and his attendants, excites the humble mind 
to ask the solemn question before us. Where angels bow with veiled faces, how 
shall man be able to worship at all ? The unthinking many imagine it to be a very 
easy matter to approach the Most High, and when professedly engaged in his worship 
they have no questionings of heart as to their fitness for it ; but truly humbled 
souls often shrink under a sense of utter unworthiness, and would not dare to 
approach the throne of the God of holiness if it were not for him, our Lord, our 
Advocate, who can abide in the heavenly temple, because his righteousness endureth 
for ever. " Who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? " Who shall be admitted to be one 
of the household of God, to sojourn under his roof and enjoy communion with him 
self ? " Who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? " Who shall be a citizen of Zion, and an 
inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem ? The question is raised, because it is 
a question. All men have not this privilege, nay, even among professors there are 
aliens from the commonwealth, who have no secret intercourse with God. On 
the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth 
who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. The 
questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could 
answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience. We must know from the Lord 
of the tabernacle what are the qualifications for his service, and when we have 
been taught of him, we shall clearly see that only our spotless Lord Jesus, and 
those who are conformed unto his image, can ever stand with acceptance before 
the Majesty on high. 

Impertinent curiosity frequently desires to know who and how many shall be 
saved ; if those who thus ask the question, " Who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? " 
would make it a soul-searching enquiry in reference to themselves they would act 
much more wisely. Members of the visible church, which is God s tabernacle of 
worship, and hill of eminence, should diligently see to it, that they have the pre 
paration of heart which fits them to be inmates of the house of God. Without the 
wedding-dress of righteousness in Christ Jesus, we have no right to sit at the banquet 
of communion. Without uprightness of walk we are not fit for the imperfect church 
on earth, and certainly we must not hope to enter the perfect church above. 


2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh 
the truth in his heart. 

3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, 
nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 

4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned ; but he honoureth them 
that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 

5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against 
the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. 

2. THE ANSWER. The Lord in answer to the question informs us by his Holy 
Spirit of the character of the man who alone can dwell in his holy hill. In perfection 
this holiness is found only in the Man of Sorrows, but in a measure it is wrought in 
all his people by the Holy Ghost. Faith and the graces of the Spirit are not men 
tioned, because this is a description of outward character, and where fruits are 
found the root may not be seen, but it is surely there. Observe the accepted man s 
walk, work and word. "He that walketh uprightly," he keeps himself erect as those 
do who traverse high ropes ; if they lean on one side over they must go, or as those 
who carry precious but fragile ware in baskets on their heads, who lose all if they 
lose their perpendicular. True belivers do not cringe as flatterers, wriggle as serpents, 
bend double as earth-grubbers, or crook on one side as those who have sinister aims ; 
they have the strong backbone of the vital principle of grace within, and being 
themselves upright, they are able to walk uprightly. Walking is of far more im 
portance than talking. He only is right who is upright in walk and downright in 
honesty. "And worketh righteousness." His faith shows itself by good works, 
and therefore is no dead faith. God s house is a hive for workers, not a nest for 
drones. Those that rejoice that everything is done for them by another, even the 
Lord Jesus, and therefore hate legality, are the best doers in the world upon gospel 
principles. If we are not positively serving the Lord, and doing his holy will to 
the best of our power, we may seriously debate our interest in divine things, 
for trees which bear no fruit must be hewn down and cast into the fire. "And 
speaketh the truth in his heart." The fool in the last Psalm spoke falsely in his heart ; 
observe both here and elsewhere in the two Psalms, the striking contrast. Saints 
not only desire to love and speak truth with their lips, but they seek to be true 
within ; they will not lie even in the closet of their hearts, for God is there to listen ; 
they scorn double meanings, evasions, equivocations, white lies, flatteries, and 
deceptions. Though truths, like roses, have thorns about them, good men wear them 
in their bosoms. Our heart must be the sanctuary and refuge of truth, should it 
be banished from all the world beside, and hunted from among men ; at all risk 
we must entertain the angel of truth, for truth is God s daughter. We must be 
careful that the heart is really fixed and settled in principle, for tenderness of con 
science towards truthfulness, like the bloom on a peach, needs gentle handling, 
and once lost it were hard to regain it. Jesus was the mirror of sincerity and holiness. 
Oh, to be more and more fashioned after his similitude 1 

3. After the positive comes the negative. " He that backbiteth not with his tongue." 
There is a sinful way of backbiting with the heart when we think too hardly of a 
neighbour, but it is the tongue which does the mischief. Some men s tongues bite 
more than their teeth. The tongue is not steel, but it cuts, and its wounds are very 
hard to heal ; its worst wounds are not with its edge to our face, but with its back 
when our head is turned. Under the law, a night hawk was an unclean bird, and 
its human image is abominable everywhere. All slanderers are the devil s bellows 
to blow up contention, but those are the worst which blow at the back of the fire. 
" Nor doeth evil to his neighbour." He who bridles his tongue will not give a licence 
to his hand. Loving our neighbour as ourselves will make us jealous of his good 
name, careful not to injure his estate, or by ill example to corrupt his character. 
" Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour." He is a fool if not a knave who 
picks up stolen goods and harbours them ; in slander as well as robbery, the receiver 
is as bad as the thief. If there were no gratified hearers of ill reports, there would 
be an end of the trade of spreading them. Trapp says, that " the tale-bearer carrieth 
the devil in his tongue, and the tale-hearer carries the devil in his ear." The 
original may be translated, " endureth ; " implying that it is a sin to endure or 
tolerate tale-bearers. " Show that man out ! " we should say of a drunkard, yet 
it is very questionable if his unmannerly behaviour will do us so much mischief 



as the tale-bearer s insinuating story. " Call for a policeman 1 " we say if we see a 
thief at his business ; ought we to feel no indignation when we hear a gossip at 
her work ? Mad dog ! Mad dog ! 1 is a terrible hue and cry, but there are few curs 
whose bite is so dangerous as a busybody s tongue. Fire I fire I ! is an alarming 
note, but the tale-bearer s tongue is set on fire of hell, and those who indulge it had 
better mend their manners, or they may find that there is fire in hell for un 
bridled tongues. Our Lord spake evil of no man, but breathed a prayer for his 
foes ; we must be like him, or we shall never be with him. 

4. "In whose eyes a vile person is contemned ; but he honoureth them that fear the 
Lord." We must be as honest in paying respect as in paying our bills. Honour 
to whom honour is due. To all good men we owe a debt of honour, and we have no 
right to hand over what is their due to vile persons who happen to be in high places. 
When bad men are in office, it is our duty to respect the office, but we cannot so 
violate our consciences as to do otherwise than contemn the men ; and on the other 
hand, when true saints are in poverty and distress, we must sumpathize with their 
afflictions and honour the men none the less. We may honour the roughest cabinet 
for the sake of the jewels, but we must not prize false gems because of their setting. 
A sinner in a gold chain and silken robes is no more to be compared with a saint in 
rags than a rushlight in a silver candlestick with the sun behind a cloud. The pro 
verb says, that " ugly women, finely dressed, are the uglier for it," and so mean 
men in high estate are the more mean because of it. " He that sweareth to his own 
hurt, and changeth not." Scriptural saints under the New Testament rule " swear not 
at all," but their word is as good as an oath : those men of God who think it right 
to swear, are careful and prayerful lest they should even seem to overshoot the mark. 
When engagements have been entered into which turn out to be unprofitable, " the 
saints are men of honour still." Our blessed Surety swore to his own hurt, but how 
gloriously he stood to his suretiship ! what a comfort to us that he changeth not, 
and what an example to us to be scrupulously and precisely exact in fulfilling our 
covenants with others I The most far-seeing trader may enter into engagements 
which turn out to be serious losses, but whatever else he loses, if he keeps his honour, 
his losses will be bearable ; if that be lost all is lost. 

5 " He that putteth not out his money to usury." Usury was and is hateful both 
to God and man. That a lender should share with the borrower in gains made by 
his money is most fitting and proper ; but that the man of property should eat up 
the poor wretch who unfortunately obtained a loan of him is abominable. Those 
who grind poor tradesmen, needy widows, and such like, by charging them interest 
at intolerable rates, will find that their gold and their silver are cankered. The 
man who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord must shake off this sin as Paul shook 
the viper into the fire. " Nor taketh reward against the innocent." Bribery is a sin 
both in the giver and the receiver. It was frequently practised in Eastern courts of 
justice ; that form of it is now under our excellent judges almost an unheard-of thing ; 
yet the sin survives in various forms, which the reader needs not that we should 
mention ; and under every shape it is loathsome to the true man of God. He remem 
bers that Jesus instead of taking reward against the innocent died for the guilty. 

5 " He that doeth these things shall never be moved." No storm shall tear him 
from his foundations, drag him from his anchorage, or uproot him from his place. 
Like the Lord Jesus, whose dominion is everlasting, the true Christian shall never 
lose his crown. He shall not only be on Zion, but like Zion, fixed and firm. He 
shall dwell in the tabernacle of the Most High, and neither death nor judgment shall 
remove him from his place of privilege and blessedness. 

Let us betake ourselves to prayer and self-examination, for this Psalm is as fire 
for the gold, and as a furnace for silver. Can we endure its testing power ? 


Verse 1. " Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? " In that the church of 
Christ upon earth is a " tabernacle," we may note, that neither the church itself 
nor the members of it, have any fixed or firm seat of habitation in this world : " Arise, 
depart, for this is not your rest." Micah ii. 10. " Here have we no continuing 
city, but we seek one to come." Heb. xiii. 14. God s tabernacle, being a movable 


temple, wandered up and down, sometimes in the desert, sometimes in Shiloh, 
sometimes among the Philistines, sometimes in Kirjathjearim, and never found 
any settled place till it was translated into the mountain of God : even so the church 
of God wandereth as a straggler and a stranger in the wilderness of this world, being 
destitute, tormented, and afllicted on every side, persecuted from this city to that, 
and never enjoying any constant habitation of sound and sure rest until it be trans 
lated unto " God s holy hill." The verb i gur (as the learned in Hebrew note) 
signifying to dwell as a stranger, or a sojourner, imports that a citizen of heaven is 

a pilgrim on earth In that the church is a tabernacle, we may see 

that it is not a fort, compassed about with any strong walls, armed with any human 
forces ; and yet such as keep within her are defended from heat of sun, and hurt of 
storms. Her strength is not here, but from above, for Christ her Head is in all her 
troubles a present help, a refuge against the tempest, a shadow against the heat. 
Isa. xxv. 4. The church on earth is indeed a tabernacle, but it is God s tabernacle, 
wherein he dwelleth as in his house ; " Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? " 
for to this end the Lord commanded the tabernacle to be made, that he might dwell 
among them ; and again, whereas he promised by Moses to set his tabernacle among 
them the blessed apostle construeth it of his dwelling among them. 2 Cor. vi. 16. 
" You are," saith he, " the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell 
in them, and walk in them." To the same purpose, God is said elsewhere to dwell 
in Sion, and to walk in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, that is, in the 
midst of the seven churches in the midst of his city (Psa. xlvi. 5), in the midst of 
his people. Isa. xii. 6. John Boys, D.D., Dean of Canterbury, 1571 1625. 

Verse 1. " Lord, who shall abide," etc. If David, a man endued with an ex 
cellent and divine spirit, one in whom singular wisdom, rare knowledge, and deep 
understanding of hidden secrets appeared, who being taught of God in heavenly 
things, far surpassed and exceeded in wisdom all his teachers and counsellors, did 
notwithstanding desire to know the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad, 
the saints from the hypocrites, the true worshippers of God from dissemblers, the 
true inhabitants of the holy tabernacle from the intruders of the wicked, lest therein 
he should be deceived ; how great cause have we, in whom neither the like spirit, 
neither such wisdom, nor equal knowledge, nor comparable understanding, by many 
degrees appeareth to fear our own weakness, to doubt of our own judgments, to con 
fess our own infirmity, and to suspect the subtle sleights and coloured pretences of 
men : and for further knowledge in hidden, deep, and secret things, with David to 
demand and ask this question, " Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who 

shall dwell in thy holy hill ? " Where David saith, " Who shall abide in thy 

holy hill ? " he giveth us to understand that there is no true and sound rest but in 
the holy hill of the Lord, which is the church. Then the wicked and ungodly which 
are not of God s house, of his holy hill, of the church, have no quiet, rest, nor sound 
peace ; but they are in continual perplexity, continual torment, continual dis- 
quietness of their minds. Richard Turnbull, 1606. 

Verse 1. " Abide in thy tabernacle," etc. The worshippers in the outer court 
only will get their eternal abode without among the dogs, sorcerers, etc. ; but they 
that shall be inhabitants of heaven, come further in, even unto the tabernacle itself: 
their souls are fed at his table, they find the smell of his garments as of myrrh, aloes, 
and cassia ; and if they miss it at any time, it is the grief of their souls, and they 
are never at rest till they recover it again. Thomas Boston. 

Verse I." Who shall dwell," etc. 

" Now, who is he ? Say, if ye can, 
Who 50 shall gain the firm abode ? 
Pilate shall say, Behold the Man ! 
And John, Behold the Lamb of God ! " 

John Barclay, quoted by A. A. Bonar, in loc. 

Verse 1. "Holy Hill." Heaven is aptly compared to a hill, hell to a hole. Now 
who shall ascend unto this holy mount ? None but those whom this mount comes 
down unto, that have sweet communion with God in this life present, whose con 
versation is in heaven, though their commoration be for awhile upon earth, who do 
here eat, and drink, and sleep, eternal life. John Trapp. 

Verses 1, 2. The disguising and counterfeiting of hypocrites in all ages, occasioned 
haply this query : for, as Paul speaks, " all are not Israel that are of Israel," a great 


many living in the church are not of the church, according to that of the doctors 
upon this place, multi sunt corpore qui non sunt fide, multi nomine qui non sunt nomine. 
Wherefore David, here perceiving that sundry people were shuffled into God s 
tabernacle like goats among the sheep, and tares among the corn, being Jews out 
wardly, but not inwardly, deceiving others often, and sometimes themselves also, 
with a bare profession of religion, and false opinion of true piety, cometh unto God 
(as to the searcher and trier of the hearts of men, acquainted with all secrets, and 
best understanding who are his own), saying unto him, O Lord, forsomuch as there 
is so much unsoundness and hypocrisy reigning among those that dwell in thy 
tabernacle, professing thy word, and frequenting the places of thy worship ; 
beseech thee most humbly, to declare to thy people some tokens and cognizances 
by which a true subject of thy kingdom may be discerned from the children of this 
world. Here then, observe, that an external profession of faith, and outward 
communion with the church of God, is not sufficient unto salvation, unless we lead an 
incorrupt life correspondent to the same, doing the thing which is right, and speaking 
the truth in our heart. And, therefore, the silly Papist is exceedingly deceived in 
relying so much upon the church s outside, to wit upon the succession of Roman 
bishops, upon the multitudes of Roman Catholics, upon the power and pomp of 
the Roman synagogue, crying as the Jews in old time, " The temple of the Lord, 
the temple of the Lord," our church is the temple of the Lord. The carnal and 
careless gospeller is deceived also, placing all his religion in the formal observation of 
outward service, for a mere verbal Christian is a real atheist, according to that of 
Paul (Titus i. 16), " In word they profess that they know God, but in their works 
they deny him ; " and so many who seem to sojourn in God s tabernacle for a time, 
shall never rest upon his " holy hill ; " and this assertion is expressly confirmed by 
Christ himself : " Not every one (saith he) that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall 
enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is 
in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in 
thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name have done 
many wonderful works ? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you : 
depart from me ye that work iniquity." Matt. vii. 21 23. Consider this, all ye 
which are Christians in lip only, but not in life, making a mask of religion, or rather a 
very vizard, with eyes, and mouth, and nose, fairly painted and proportioned to 
all pretences and purposes. O think on this, all ye that forget God, he that dwelleth 
on high, and beholds the things here below, suffers none to rest upon the mountain 
of his holiness but such as walk uprightly, doing that which is just, and speaking that 
which is true. John Boys. 

Verse 2. "He that walketh uprightly," etc. If neither the golden reason of 
excellency can move us, nor the silver reason of profit allure us, then must the iron 
reason of necessity enforce us to integrity and uprightness of heart. For first, such is 
the necessity thereof, that without integrity the best graces we seem to have are 
counterfeit, and, therefore, but glorious sins ; the best worship we can perform is 
but hypocrisy, and therefore abominable in God s sight. For uprightness is the 
soundness of all grace and virtues, as also of all religion and worship of God, without 
which they are unsound and nothing worth. And first, as touching graces, if they 
be not joined with uprightness of heart, they are sins under the masks or vizards of 
virtue, yea, as it may seem, double sins : for as Augustine saith, Simulata eequitas 
est duplex iniquitas, quia et iniquitas est, et simulatio : Feigned equity is double 
iniquity, both because it is iniquity, and because it is feigning. George Downame, 
D.D., 1604. 

Verse 2. " He that walketh uprightly." Here two questions are moved : First. 
Why David describes a sound member of the church, and inheritor of heaven, by 
works rather than by faith, seeing the kingdom of heaven is promised unto faith, 
and the profession thereof also maketh one a member of the visible church ? 
Secondly. Why, among all the fruits of faith, almost innumerable, he makes choice 
of those duties especially which concern our neighbours ? To the first, answer 
may be, that in this, and in all other places of Holy Scripture, where good works 
are commanded or commended in any, faith is ever presupposed, according to 
that apostolical maxim, " Whatsoever is not of faith is sin ; " " Without me," 
saith our blessed Saviour, " ye can do nothing " (John xv. 5) ; and without faith in 
him it is impossible to please God (Heb. xi. 6) ; fides est operum fomes, as Paulinus 
wittily : " Faith (as our church speaks), is the nest of good works ; albeit our birds 


be never so fair, though haply we do that which is right, and speak that which is true, 
yet all these will be lost, except it be brought forth in a true belief." Aristides 
was so just in his government that he would not tread awry for any respect to friend 
or despite of foe. Pomponius is said to have been so true, that he never made lie 
himself, nor suffered a lie in other. Curtius at Rome, Menseceus at Thebes, Codrus 
al Athens, exposed themselves unto voluntary death, for the good of their neighbours 
and country : yet, because they wanted the rest of true faith in the world s Saviour 
where to lay their young, we cannot (if we speak with our prophet here from God s 
oracle), say that they shall ever rest upon his holy hill. Another answer may be, 
that faith is an inward and hidden grace, and many deceive themselves and others 
with a feigned profession thereof, and therefore the Holy Spirit will have every man s 
faith to be tried and known by their fruits, and howsoever eternal life be promised 
to faith, and eternal damnation be threatened against infidelity, yet the sentence 
of salvation and condemnation shall be pronounced according to works, as the 
clearest evidence of both. It is truly said, out of Bernard, that although our good 
works are not causa regnandi, yet they be via regni, the causeway wherein, albeit 
not the cause wherefore, we must ascend God s holy hill. To the second demand, 
why the duties immediately belonging to God, are not mentioned here, but only 
such as concern our brother ? Answer is made, that this question is propounded 
of such as, living in the visible church, openly profess the faith, and would seem to 
be devout, hearing the word of God, and calling upon his name ; for of such as are 
profane atheists, and do not so much as make a semblance of holiness, there is no 
question to be made, for, without all doubt, there can be no resting place for such in 
the kingdom of heaven. Now that we may discern aright which of those that profess 
religion are sound, and which unsound ; the marks are not to be taken from an 
outward hearing of the word, or receiving of the sacraments, and much less from a 
formal observation of human traditions in God s tabernacle (for all these things 
hypocrites usually perform), but from the duties of righteousness, giving every 
man his due, because the touchstone of piety towards God is charity towards our 
brother. " Herein," saith John, " are the children of God known, and the children 
of the devil : whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth 
not his brother." John Boys. 

Verse 2. There is no ascertaining the quality of a tree but by its fruits. When 
the wheels of a clock move within, the hands on the dial will move without. When 
the heart of a man is sound in conversion, then the life will be fair in profession. 
When the conduit is walled in, how shall we judge of the spring but by the waters 
which run through the pipes ? William Seeker. 

Verse 2." And worketh righteousness." A man must first be righteous before 
he can work righteousness of life. " He that doeth righteousness is righteous, 
even as he is righteous." 1 John iii. 7. The tree makes the fruit, not the fruit the 
tree ; and therefore the tree must be good before the fruit can be good. Matt, 
vii. 18. A righteous man may make a righteous work, but no work of an unrighteous 
man can make him righteous. Now, we become righteous only by faith, through 

the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Rom. v. 1 Wherefore let men 

work as they will, if they be not true believers in Christ, they are not workers of 
righteousness ; and, consequently they will not be dwellers in heaven. Ye must 
then close with Christ in the first place, and by faith receive the gift of imputed 
righteousness, or ye will never truly bear this character of a citizen of Zion. A man 
shall as soon force fruit out of a branch broken off from the tree and withered, as 
work righteousness without believing in, and uniting with Christ. These are two 
things by which those that hear the gospel are ruined. Thomas Boston. 

Verse 2. " Worketh righteousness." Jacob s ladder had stairs, upon which he 
saw none standing still, but all either ascending, or else descending by it. Ascend 
you likewise to the top of the ladder, to heaven, and there you shall hear one say, 
" My Father doth now work, and I work also." Whereupon Basil noteth that 
King David having first said, " Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle ? " adds then, 
not he that hath wrought righteousness heretofore, but he that doth now work 
righteousness, even as Christ saith, " My Father doth now work, and I work 
also." Thomas Play fere. 

Verse 2. But here observe David saith, " that worketh righteousness ; " not 
that talks about, thinks about, or hears of, righteousness ; because, " not the hearers 
of the law, but the doers of the law, shall be justified." What then do we owe 
unto others ? That which Christ saith (Matt, vii.), " Whatsoever ye would that 


men should do unto you, do ye also unto them," even unto your enemies : that is, 
to injure no one, to succour those that suffer injury, and to do good unto all men. But 
these things, I say, are spoken especially unto those who have respect of persons ; 
as if he had said, It is not because thou art a priest, nor because thou art of a religious 
order, nor because thou prayest much, nor because thou dost miracles, nor because 
thou teachest excellently, nor because thou art dignified with the title of father, 
nor because thou art the doer of any work (except righteousness), that thou shalt 
rest in the holy hill of the Lord ; for if thou be destitute of the work of righteousness, 
neither all thy good works, nor thy indulgences, nor thy votes and suffrages, nor thy 
intercessions, shall avail thee anything. Therefore, the truth is firm ; that it is 
the walker without spot, and the doer of righteousness, that shall rest in the taber 
nacle of the Lord. Yet how many are there, who build, increase and adorn churches, 
monasteries, altars, vessels, garments, etc., who, all the while never so much as 
think of the works of righteousness ; nay, who tread righteousness under foot that 
they may work these their own works, and because of them hope to gain the pardon 
of their unrighteousness, while thousands are deceived by these means ! Hence, 
in the last day, Christ will say, " I was an hungered, I was thirsty, I was naked, I 
was in prison, I was a stranger." He will not say one word about those works 
which are done and admired at this day. And on the other hand, it is of no account 
against thee that thou art a layman, or poor, or sick or contemptible, or how vile 
soever thou art, if thou workest righteousness, thou shalt be saved. The only 
work that we must hope will be considered and accounted of, is the work of righteous 
ness : all other works that either urge or allure us on under a show of godliness, 
are a thing of nought. Martin Luther. 

Verse 2. "And speaketh the truth in his heart." Anatomists have observed 
that the tongue in man is tied with a double string to the heart. And so in truth 
spoken there is necessary a double agreement of our words. 1. With our heart. 
That is, to the speaking of truth, it is necessary our words agree with our mind and 
thoughts about the thing. We must speak as we think, and our tongues must be 
faithful interpreters of our mind ; otherwise we lie, not speaking as we think. So 
what is truth in itself may be spoken by a man, and yet he be a liar ; namely, if he 
does not think as he speaks. 2. With the thing as it is in itself. Though we think 
a thing to be so, which is not so, we lie, when we affirm it ; because it is not as we 
say, though we really think it is so. For our mistaken notions of things can never 
stamp lies to pass current for truths. 2 Thess ii. 11. Thomas Boston. 

Verse 2. I this day heard a sermon from Psalm xv. 2, " And speaketh the truth 

in his heart." O my soul, receive the admonition that has been given thee 1 

Study truth in the inward parts ; let integrity and truth always accompany thee, 
and preserve thee : speak the truth in thy heart. I am thankful for any conviction 
and sense I have of the evil of lying ; Lord, increase my abhorrence of it : as a further 
assistance and help against this mean, sordid, pernicious vice, I would endeavour, 
and resolve, in pursuit of the directions laid before us in the sermon, to mortify 
those passions and corruptions from whence this sin of lying more ordinarily flows, 
and which are the chief occasion of it, as " out of the heart proceed evil thoughts " 
(Matt. xv. 19) ; so, from the same fountain proceed evil words. And I would, with 
the greatest zeal, set myself against such corruptions as upon observation I find 
more commonly betray me into this iniquity : pride often indites our speech, and 
coins many a lie ; so envy, covetousness, malice, etc. I would endeavour to cleanse 
myself from all this filthiness : there never will be a mortified tongue while there 
is an unmortified heart. If I love the world inordinately, it is a thousand to one I 
shall be often stretching a point to promote a worldly interest ; and if I hate my 
brother, it is the same odds I shall reproach him. Lord, help me to purge the foun 
tain, and then the streams will be pure. When the spring of a clock, and all the 
movements are right, the hand will go right ; and so it is here. The tongue follows 
the inward inclination. I would resolve to do nothing that may need a lie. If 
Gehazi s covetousness had not shamed him, he had not wanted a lie to excuse him, 
" He that walks uprightly, walks surely " and safely in this, as well as other respects. 
Prov. x. 9. May I do nothing that is dishonourable and mean, nothing that cannot 
bear the light, and then I shall have little temptation to lying. I would endeavour 
for a lively sense of the eye of God upon me, acting and speaking in his presence. 
Lord, I desire to set thee always before me ; thou understandest my thoughts as 
perfectly as others do my words. I would consider before I speak, and not speak 
much or rashly. Prov. xxix. 20. I would often think of the severity of a future 


judgment, when every secret shall be made manifest, and the hypocrite and liar ex 
posed before angels and men. Lastly, I would frequently beg divine assistance 
herein. Psalm cxix. 29 ; Prov. xxx. 8. O my God, help me in my future conduct, 
remove from me the way of lying ; may the law of kindness and truth be in my 
tongue ; may I take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I bewail 
my past miscarriages in this respect, and flee to thy mercy through the blood of 
Christ ; bless to me the instructions that have been this day given me ; let no 
iniquity prevail against me ; " Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins, and 
cleanse me from secret faults." I commit my thoughts, desires, and tongue, to thy 
conduct and government ; may I think and act in thy fear, and always speak the 
truth in my heart. Benjamin Bennet s "Christian Oratory," 1728. 

Verses 2, 5. As the eagle casteth off her beak, and so reneweth her youth, and 
the snake strippeth off her old skin, and so maketh herself smooth : even so he 
that will enter into the joys of God, and rest upon his holy mountain, must, as the 
Scripture speaks, put off the old man and put on the new, which, after God, is created 
in righteousness and true holiness, repenting truly,speedily , steadily. Robert Cawdray. 

Verse 3. " He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour." 
Lamentation for the gross neglect of this duty, or the frequent commission of this sin. 
What tears are sufficient to bewail it ? How thick do censures and reproaches 
fly in all places, at all tables, in all conventions ! And this were the more tolerable, 
if it were only the fault of ungodly men, of strangers and enemies to religion ; for 
so saith the proverb, " Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked." When a man s 
heart is full of hell, it is not unreasonable to expect that his tongue should be set 
on fire of hell ; and it is no wonder to hear such persons reproach good men, yea, 
even for their goodness. But alas ! the disease doth not rest here, this plague is 
not only among the Egyptians but Israelites too. It is very doleful to consider 
how professors sharpen their tongues like swords against professors ; and one good 
man censures and reproaches another, and one minister traduceth another ; and 
who can say, " I am clean from this sin " ? O that I could move your pity in 
this case ! For the Lord s sake pity yourselves, and do not pollute and wound 
your consciences with this crime. Pity your brethren ; let it suffice that godly 
ministers and Christians are loaded with reproaches by wicked men there is no 
need that you should combine with them in this diabolical work. You should 
support and strengthen their hands against the reproaches of the ungodly world, 
and not add affliction to the afflicted. O pity the world, and pity the church 
which Christ hath purchased with his own blood, which methinks bespeaks you in 
the words, " Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends ; for the 
hand of God hath touched me." Job. xix. 21. Pity the mad and miserable world, 
and help it against this sin ; stop the bloody issue ; restrain this wicked practice 
amongst men as much as possibly you can, and lament it before God, and for 
what you cannot do yourselves, give God no rest until he shall please to work a 
cure. Matthew Poole, 16241679. 

Verse 3. " He that backbiteth not," etc. Detraction or slander is not lightly 
to be passed over, because we do so easily fail in this point. For the good name 
of a man, as saith Solomon, is a precious thing to every one, and to be preferred 
before much treasure, insomuch that it is no less grievous to hurt a man with the 
tongue than with a sword : nay, ofttimes the stroke of a tongue is grievouser than the 
wound of a spear, as it is in the French proverb. And therefore the tongue must be 
bridled, that we hurt not in any wise the good name of our neighbour ; but preserve 
it unto him safe and sound as much as in us shall lie. That which he addeth touching 
evil or injury not to be done to our neighbour, is like unto that which we have seen 
already concerning the working or exercising of righteousness. He would have us 
therefore so to exercise all upright dealing, that we might be far from doing any 
damage or wrong to our neighbours. And by the name of neighbour, is meant 
every man and woman, as it is plain and evident. For we are all created of God, 
and placed in this world that we might live uprightly and sincerely together. And 
therefore he breaketh the law of human society (for we are all tied and bound by this 
law of nature) that doth hurt or injury to another. The third member of this verse 
is, nor that reproacheth another, or, that maintaineth not a false report given one 
against another ; which latter particle seemeth to be the better, since he had spoken 
before expressly, touching the good name of another, not to be hurt or wronged 
With our tongue. To the which fault this is next in degree, wherewith we are too 


much encumbered, and which we scarce acknowledge to be a fault, when we further 
and maintain the slanders devised and given out by another against a man, either 
by hearing them or by telling them forth to others, as we heard them. For why ? 
It seemeth for the most part to be enough for us if we can say, that we feign not this 
or that, nor make it of our own heads, but only tell it forth as we heard it of others, 
without adding anything of our own brain. But as oft as we do this we fail in our 
duty doing, in not providing for our neighbour s credit, as were requisite for the 
things, which being uttered by others ought to be passed over in silence and to lie 
dead, we gather up, and by telling them forth, disperse them abroad, which whether 
it be a sin or no, when as we ought by all means possible to wish and do well unto 
our neighbour, all men do see. And therefore thou that travellest towards eternal 
life, must not only not devise false reports and slanders against other men, but 
also not so much as have them in thy mouth being devised by others, neither by 
any means assist or maintain them in slandering ; but by all honest and lawful 
means, provide for the credit and estimation of thy neighbour, so much as in 
thee lieth. Peter Baro, D.D., 1560. 

Verse 3. " He that backbiteth not with his tongue." The Hebrew word hr\ signi- 
fieth to play the spy, and by a metaphor to backbite or slander, for backbiters and 
whisperers, after the manner of spies, go up and down dissembling their malice, 
that they may espy the faults and defects of others, whereof they may make a 
malicious relation to such as will give ear to their slanders. So that backbiting is a 

malicious defamation of a man behind his back And that the citizen of heaven 

doth and ought to abhor from backbiting, the horrible wickedness of this sin doth 
evince. For first, Lev. xix. 16, where it is straightly forbidden, the " tale-bearer " 
is compared to a pedlar: "Thou shalt not walk about with tales and slanders, 
as it were a pedlar among thy people." So much "r;n signifieth. For as the 
pedlar having bought his wares of some one or more goeth about from house to 
house that he may sell the same to others ; so backbiters and tale-bearers, gathering 
together tales and rumours, as it were wares, go from one to another, that such 
wares as either themselves have invented, or have gathered by report, they may 
utter in the absence of their neighbour to his infamy and disgrace. Likewise Psalm 
1. 20, it is condemned as a notable crime, which God will not suffer to go unpunished ; 
Ezek. xxii. 9, it is reckoned among the abominations of Jerusalem, for which 
destruction is denounced against it ; and Rom. i. 29, 30, among the crimes of the 
heathen, given over unto a reprobate sense, this is placed : they were " whisperers 
and backbiters." George Downame. 

Verse 3. " He that backbiteth not." He that is guilty of backbiting, that speaks 
evil of another behind his back, if that which he speaks be false, is guilty of lying, 
which is prejudicial to salvation. If that which he speaks be true, yet he is void of 
charity in seeking to defame another. For as Solomon observes, " Love covereth 
all sins." Prov. x. 12. Where there is love and charity, there will be a covering 
and concealing of men s sins as much as may be. Now, where charity is wanting, 
their salvation is not to be expected. 1 Cor. xiii. 1, etc. ; 1 John iii. 14, 15. Christopher 
Cartwright, 16021658. 

Verse 3. " Backbiteth not." This crime is a conjugation of evils, and is produc 
tive of infinite mischiefs ; it undermines peace, and saps the foundation of friendship ; 
it destroys families, and rends in pieces the very heart and vitals of charity ; it 
makes an evil man party, and witness, and judge, and executioner of the innocent. 
Bishop Taylor. 

Verse 3. " Backbiteth." The scorpion hurteth none but such as he toucheth 
with the tip of his tail ; and the crocodile and basilisk slay none but such as either 
the force of their sight, or strength of their breath reacheth. The viper woundeth 
none but such as it biteth ; the venomous herbs or roots kill none but such as taste, 
or handle, or smell them, and so come near unto them ; but the poison of slanderous 
tongues is much more rank and deadly ; for that hurteth and slayeth, woundeth 
and killeth, not only near, but afar off ; not only at hand, but by distance of place 
removed ; not only at home, but abroad, not only in our own nation but in foreign 
countries ; and spareth neither quick nor dead. Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 3. " Backbiteth." The word here used comes from a root signifying 
Joot, and denotes a person who goes about from house to house, speaking things he 
should not (1 Tim. v. 13) ; and a word from this root signifies spies ; and the phrase 
here may point at persons who creep into houses, pry into the secrets of families, 
divulge them, and oftentimes represent them in a false light. Such are ranked 


among the worst of men, and are very unfit to be in the society of saints, or in a 
church of Christ. See Rom. i. 30. John Gill. 

Verse 3. " Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour." The saints of God 
must not be too light of hearing, much less of believing all tales, rumours, and 
reports of their brethren ; and charity requireth that we do not only stop and stay 
them, but that we examine them before we believe them. Saul, the king, too light 
of belief in this point, believed the slanderous and false reports of David s enemies, 
who put into Saul s head that David imagined evil against him. Yea, David him 
self showed his great infirmity in that, that without due examination and proof of 
the matter, he believed the false report of Ziba against Mephibosheth, the son of 
Jonathan ; of whom to David the king, persecuted by Absalom his son, Ziba 
reported falsely, that he should say, " This day shall the house of Israel restore unto 
me the kingdom of my father." The example of whose infirmity in Scripture re 
proved, must not we follow ; but let us rather embrace the truth of that heavenly 
doctrine which, through God s Spirit, here he preacheth, that we believe not false 
reports against our neighbours. Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 3. Despise not thy neighbour, but think thyself as bad a sinner, and that 
the like defects may befall thee. If thou canst not excuse his doing, excuse his 
intent which may be good ; or if the deed be evil, think it was done of ignorance ; 
if thou canst no way excuse him, think some great temptation befell him, and that 
thou shouldst be worse if the like temptation befell thee ; and give God thanks that 
the like as yet hath not befallen thee. Despise not a man being a sinner, for though 
he be evil to-day, he may turn to-morrow. Williams Perkins, 1558 1602. 

Verses 3, 4, 5. They that cry down moral honesty, cry down that which is a 
great part of religion, my duty towards God, and my duty towards man. What 
care I to see a man run after a sermon, if he cozens and cheats as soon as he comes 
home ? On the other side, morality must not be without religion, for it so, it may 
change as I see convenience. Religion must govern it. He that has not religion 
to govern his morality, is not a dram better than my mastiff-dog ; so long as you 
stroke him, and please him, and do not pinch him, he will play with you as finely 
as may be, he is a very good moral mastiff ; but if you hurt him, he will fly in your 
face, and tear out your throat. John Seldon, 1584 1654. 

Verse 4. " In whose eyes a vile person is contemned," etc. When wicked Jehoram, 
king of Israel, came to Eliseus,the prophet, to ask counsel of the Lord, and to entreat 
for waters, having in company Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, being virtuous ; 
the prophet showeth his contempt to the one being wicked, and his reverence to 
the other, being godly, faithful and virtuous, said, " As the Lord of hosts liveth, before 
whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat, the king 
of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee." 2 Kings iii. 14. Thus was 
the wicked vile in his sight ; thus did he not flatter the ungodly. In like manner 
godly Mordecai, the Jew, having Hainan the ambitious and proud Agagite in con 
tempt, would in no wise bow the knee unto him in sign of honour, as the rest of 
the people did ; for which cause he was extremely hated, menaced and molested of 
proud and wicked Haman. To wink at their wickedness, to uphold them in their 
iniquity, to fawn upon them and flatter them, to praise them when they deserve 
just reproof, is, as it were, an honouring of them ; to which, as to a most grievous 
sin, the prophet denounceth a most bitter curse : " Woe unto them that call evil 
good, and good evil ; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness ; that put 
bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter I " Isaiah v. 20. Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 4. " In whose eyes a vile person is contemned." To contemn the wicked 
and honour the godly, are opposite the one to the other. But the former may seem 
not to be sufficiently beseeming to a godly man. For why should he contemn or 
despise others, who is commanded by all means to care for the credit of others, 
as we heard even now ? Nay, a godly man, letting others go, ought to search into 
himself, and to accuse himself, but not to judge of others. But this saying of the 
prophet is to be understood rather of the faults than of the person. As every 
man therefore is to be loved, so are the faults of every man to be hated of the 
godly. For so is God himself, whom we desire to be like unto, that we might dwell 
with him, affected and disposed. For why ? he hateth no man, nay, he hateth 
nothing at all in this whole universal world, but only sin. For he is the author and 
preserver of all things that be ; and therefore doth good and wisheth well to all ; 
only of sin he is not the author, but the free and unconstrained will of man and 


Satan. Notwithstanding God doth so greatly hate sin, that by reason thereof he 
doth sometimes neglect and forsake men, yea, and have them in contempt. So 
then a godly man hateth no man, nor contemneth any ; but yet notwithstanding 
he disliketh sin in sinful men, and that he sticketh not to let them perceive either 
by reproving them, or shunning their company, or by doing of some other thing, 
whereby they may know they are misliked of good men for their enormities, and 
see themselves to be contemned of others for their wicked and ungodly life. A 
good man therefore must not flatter the ungodly in their ungracious attempts, but 
must freely declare that he disalloweth their course and conversation. Peter Baro. 
Verse 4. " In whose eyes a vile person is contemned." Augustine, as Posidonius 
writeth, showing what hatred he had to tale-bearers and false reporters of others, 
had two verses written over his table ; by translation these : 

" He that doth love with bitter speech the absent to defame, 
Must surely know that at this board no place is for the same." 

Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 4. " In whose eyes a vile person is contemned." The burgess of the New 
Jerusalem, reprobos reprobat, et probos probat ; he cannot flatter any man, nor fancy 
such as in whom he fmdeth not aliquid Christi, something of the image of God. A 
golden Golosse stuffed with rubbish, he cannot stoop to, " But he honoureth them 
that fear the Lord," as the only earthly angels, though never so mean and despicable 
in the world s eye. Mr. Fox, being asked whether he remembered not such a poor 
servant of God who had received succour from him in time of trouble ? answered 
" I remember him well ; I tell you, I forget the lords and ladies, to remember 
such." John Trapp. 

Verse 4. " He honoureth them that fear the Lord." Though the godly some 
way or other be injurious unto us, we ought nevertheless to honour and not to despise 
them. So Joseph did Mary, though he supposed her to have dealt injuriously with 
him ; and she had done so, indeed, if it had been with her as he imagined. Calvin s 
resolution concerning Luther was very admirable in this respect. They differed 
much about the presence of Christ in the sacrament ; and Luther being of a vehe 
ment spirit, wrote bitterly against those that did hold otherwise in that point than 
himself did. This enforced some, who were more nearly concerned in the business, 
to prepare to answer Luther ; which Calvin understanding, and fearing lest they, 
being provoked by Luther s tartness, should deal with him in the like kind, he wrote 
unto Bullinger, a prime man among them, persuading and exhorting him to carry 
the business so as to show all due respect unto Luther, considering what worth and 
excellency there was in him, however he had demeaned himself in that particular. 
And he adds, that he often used to say, that although Luther should call him devil, 
yet he would do him that honour to acknowledge him a choice servant of God. 
Christopher Cartwright. 

Verse 4. " He honoureth them that fear the Lord." I have read of one that said, 
If he should meet a preacher and an angel together, he would first salute the preacher 
and then the angel. Charles Bradbury s "Cabinet of Jewels," 1785. 

Verse 4. " He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." 
" His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles ; 
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate; 
His tears pure messengers, sent from his heart ; 
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth." 

William Shakespere. 

Verse 5. The Puritanic divines are almost all of them against the taking of 
any interest upon money, and go the length of saying that one penny per cent, 
per annum will shut a man out of heaven if persisted in, It appeared to me to 
be useless to quote opinions in which I cannot agree, especially as this would occupy 
space better employed. The demanding of excessive and grinding interest is a 
sin to be detested ; the taking of the usual and current interest in a commercial 
country is not contrary to the law of love. The Jews were not engaged in commerce, 
and to lend money even at the lowest interest to their fellow farmers in times of 
poverty would have been usurious ; but they might lend to strangers, who would 
usually be occupied in commerce, because in the commercial world, money is a 
fruitful thing, and the lender has a right to a part of its products ; a loan to enable 
a non-trader to live over a season of want is quite another matter. C. H. S. 


Verse 5. " He that putteth not out his money to usury." By usury is generally 
understood the gain of anything above the principal, or that which was lent, exacted 
only in consideration of the loan, whether it be in money, corn, wares, or the like. 
It is most commonly taken for an unlawful profit which a person makes of his 
money or goods. The Hebrew word for usury signifies biting. The law of God 
prohibits rigorous imposing conditions of gain for the loan of money or goods, and 
exacting them without respect to the condition of the borrower, whether he gain 
or lose ; whether poverty occasioned his borrowing, or a visible prospect of gain 
by employing the borrowed goods. It is said in Exod. xxii. 25, 26, " If thou lend 
money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an 
usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury," etc. And in Lev. xxv. 35, 36, 37, 
" If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen into decay with thee, then thou shalt 
relieve him ; yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner, that he may live with 
thee : take thou no usury of him," etc. This law forbids the taking usury from a 
brother that was poor, an Israelite reduced to poverty, or from a proselyte ; but 
in Deut. xxiii. 20, God seems to tolerate usury towards strangers ; " Unto a stranger 
thou mayest lend upon usury." By strangers, in this passage, some understand 
the Gentiles in general, or all such as were not Jews, excepting proselytes. Others 
think that by strangers are meant the Canaanites, and the other people that were 
devoted to slavery and subjection ; of these the Hebrews were permitted to exact 
usury, but not of such strangers with whom they had no quarrel, and against whom 
the Lord had not denounced his judgments. The Hebrews were plainly commanded 
in Exod. xxii. 25, etc., not to receive usury for money from any that borrowed 
from necessity, as in that case in Neh. v. 5, 7. And such provision the law made 
for the preserving of estates to their families by the year of jubilee ; for a people 
that had little concern in trade, could not be supposed to borrow money but out of 
necessity : but they were allowed to lend upon usury to strangers, whom yet they 
must not oppress. This Jaw, therefore, in the strictness of it, seems to have been 
peculiar to the Jewish state ; but in the equity of it, it obligeth us to show mercy 
to those we have advantage against, and to be content to share with those we 
lend to in loss, as well as profit, if Providence cross them. And upon this condition, 
a valuable commentator says, " It seems as lawful for me to receive interest for 
money, which another takes pains with, improves, but runs the hazard of in trade, as 
it is to receive rent for my land, which another takes pains with, improves, but 
runs the hazard of in husbandry." Alexander Cruden, 1701 1770. 

Verse 5. " He that putteth not out his money to usury." " If thou lend money 
to any of my people that is poor by thee." Exod. xxii. 25. Rather, according to 
the letter of the original, " If thou lend money to my people, even to a poor man 
with thee." The Israelites were a people but little engaged in commerce, and 
therefore could not in general be supposed to borrow money but from sheer necessity ; 
and of that necessity the lender was not to take advantage by usurious exactions. 
The law is not to be understood as a prohibition of interest at any rate whatever, 
but of excessive interest or usury. The clause, " Thou shalt not be to him as an 
usurer," is equivalent to saying, "Thou shalt not domineer and lord it over him 
rigorously and cruelly." That this class of men were peculiarly prone to be 
extortionate and oppressive in their dealings with debtors would seem to be implied 
by the etymology of the original term for usury (^J neshek), which comes from 
a root signifying to bite ; and in Neh. v. 2 5, we have a remarkable case of the 
bitter and grinding effects resulting from the exercise of the creditor s rights over 
the debtor. A large portion of the people had not only mortgaged their lands, 
vineyards and houses, but had actually sold their sons and daughters into bondage, 
to satisfy the claims of their grasping creditors. In this emergency Nehemiah 
espoused the cause of the poor, and compelled the rich, against whom he called 
the people together, to remit the whole of their dues ; and, moreover, exacted 
from them an oath that they would never afterwards oppress their poor brethren 
for the payment of those debts. This was not because every part of those proceedings 
had been contrary to the letter of the Mosaic law, but because it was a flagrant 
breach of equity under the circumstances. It was taking a cruel and barbarous 
advantage of the necessities of their brethren, at which God was highly indignant, 
and which his servants properly rebuked. From this law the Hebrew canonists 
have gathered a general rule, that " Whoso exacteth of a poor man, and knoweth 
that he hath not aught to pay with, he transgresseth against this prohibition, Thou 
shalt not be to him as an exacting creditor." (Maimonides, in Ainsworth.) We 


nowhere learn from the institutes delivered by Moses that the simple taking of 
interest, especially from the neighbouring nations (Deut. xxiii. 19, 20), was forbidden 
to the Israelites ; but the divine law would give no countenance to the griping 
and extortionate practices to which miserly money-lenders are always prone. The 
deserving and industrious poor might sometimes be reduced to such straits, that 
pecuniary accommodations might be very desirable to them ; and towards such 
God would inculcate a mild, kind, and forbearing spirit, and the precept is enforced 
by the relation which they sustained to him : q.d., " Remember that you are lending 
to my people, my poor ; and therefore take no advantage of their necessities. Trust 
me against the fear of loss, and treat them kindly and generously." George Bush, 
in " Notes on the Book of Exodus," 1856. 

Verse 5. " He that putteth not out his money to usury." With respect to the 
first clause, as David seems to condemn all kinds of usury in general, and with 
out exception, the very name has been everywhere held in detestation. But crafty 
men have invented specious names under which to conceal the vice ; and thinking 
by this artifice to escape, they have plundered with greater excess than if they had 
lent on usury avowedly and openly. God, however, will not be dealt with and 
imposed upon by sophistry and false pretences. He looks upon the thing as it 
really is. There is no worse species of usury than an unjust way of making bargains, 
where equity is disregarded on both sides. Let us, then, remember that all bargains, 
in which the one party unrighteously strives to make gain by the loss of the other 
party, whatever name may be given to them, are here condemned. It may be 
asked, whether all kinds of usury are to be put into this denunciation, and regarded 
as alike unlawful ? If we condemn all without distinction, there is a danger lest 
many, seeing themselves brought into such a strait as to find that sin must be 
incurred, in whatever way they can turn themselves, may be rendered bolder by 
despair, and may rush headlong into all kinds of usury without choice or dis 
crimination. On the other hand, whenever we concede that something may be 
lawfully done in this way, many will give themselves loose reins, thinking that a 
liberty to exercise usury, without control or moderation, has been granted them. 
In the first place, therefore, I would, above all things, counsel my readers to beware 
of ingeniously contriving deceitful pretexts by which to take advantage of their 
fellow men, and let them not imagine that anything can be lawful to them which 

is grievous and hurtful to others It is not without cause that God has 

in Lev. xxv. 35, 36, forbidden usury, adding this reason : "And if thy brother 
be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee ; then thou shalt relieve him : yea, 
though he be a stranger, or a sojourner ; that he may live with thee. Take thou 
no usury of him, or increase." We see that the end for which the law was framed 
was that man should not cruelly oppress the poor, who ought rather to receive 
sympathy and compassion. This was, indeed, a part of the judicial law which 
God appointed for the Jews in particular ; but it is a common principle of justice, 
which extends to all nations, and to all ages, that we should keep ourselves from 
plundering and devouring the poor who are in distress and want. Whence it follows, 
that the gain which he who lends his money upon interest acquires, without doing 
injury to any one, is not to be included under the head of unlawful usury. The 
Hebrew word wj neshek, which David employs, being derived from another word 
which signifies to bite, sufficiently shows that usuries are condemned in so far as 
they involve in them, or lead to, a license of robbing or plundering our fellow men. 
Ezekiel, indeed (chapters xviii. 17, and xxii. 12), seems to condemn the taking 
of any interest whatever upon money lent ; but he, doubtless, has an eye to the 
unjust and crafty arts of gaining by which the rich devoured the poor people. In 
short, provided we had engraven on our hearts the rule of equity which Christ 
prescribes in Matt. vii. 12, " Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men 
should do to you, do ye even so to them," it would not be necessary to enter into 
lengthened disputes concerning usury. John Calvin, in toe. 

Verse 5 (first clause). The Mosaic law forbids the lending of money for interest 
to an Israelite. Exod. xxii. 25 ; Lev. xxv. 37 ; Deut. xxiii. 19 ; Prov. xxviii. 8 ; 
Ezek. xviii. 8. In several of the passages referred to, it is expressly supposed that 
money is lent only to the poor, a supposition which has its ground in the simple 
relations of the Mosaic times, in which lending, for the purpose of speculation and 
gain, had no existence. Such lending ought only to be a work of brotherly love ; 
and it is a great violation of that if any one, instead of helping his neighbour, takes 
advantage of his need to bring him into still greater straits. The Mosaic regulation 


in question has, accordingly, its import also for New Testament times. With the 
interest-lending of capitalists, who borrow for speculation, it has nothing to do. 
This belongs to a quite different matter, as is implied even by the name w, a 
mordendo, according to which only such usury can be meant as plagues and im 
poverishes a neighbour. By unseasonable comparison with our modes of speech, 
many would expound, " His money he puts not to interest." E. W. Hengstenberg. 

Verse 5 (first clause). The worm called in Latin teredo, whereof Pliny hath 
reported something in his story, breeding in wood, to the touch is soft, yet it hath 
such teeth as endeavoureth and consumeth the hard timber. So the usurer is a 
soft beast at first to handle, but in continuance of time the hardness of his teeth 
will eat thee up, both flesh and bone, if thou beware not. He pleadeth love, but 
not for thy sake, but for his own ; for as the ivy colleth and claspeth the oak as a 
lover, but thereby it groweth up and overtoppeth the oak, and sucketh out the 
juice and sap thereof, that it cannot thrive nor prosper ; so the usurer colleth, 
embraceth, and claspeth in arms the borrower, that thereby himself may grow 
richer, and suck all wealth, goods, and riches from him, that he never thriveth or 
prospereth after. The pleasure the usurer showeth is like the playing of the cat 
with the silly mouse : the cat playeth with the mouse, but the play of the cat is 
the death of the mouse. The usurer pleasureth the borrower ; but the pleasure 
of the usurer is the undoing of the borrower. The fox through craft slideth and 
tumbleth, and maketh much pastime till he come to the prey, then he devoureth : 
the usurer maketh many fair speeches, giveth out many fair promises, pretendeth 
very great kindness, until he have got thee within his compass, then he crusheth 
and cruciateth thee. The usurer preyeth upon the poor, he waxeth rich of the 
penury of his brother, he clotheth himself with the coat of the naked, he gathereth 
riches of the indigency and want of his neighbour ; he feedeth himself of the bread 
of the hungry, and devoureth his poor brother, as the great beasts do the smaller ; 
than which, saith Ambrose, there is no greater inhumanity and cruelty, no greater 
wretchedness and iniquity, as Chrysostom in many places, and Basil upon this 
Psalm, have well observed. Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 5. The rich make the poor to fill them ; for usurers feed upon the poor, 
even as great fishes devour the small. Therefore, he which said, Let there not 
be a beggar in Israel (Deut. xv. 4), said too, Let there not be an usurer in Israel. 
For if there be usurers in Israel there will be beggars in Israel ; for usurers make 
beggars, even as lawyers make quarrellers. ... It is a miserable occupation to live 
by sin, and a great comfort to a man when he looketh upon his gold and silver, 
and his heart telleth him, All this is well gotten ; and when he lieth upon his 
death-bed, and must leave all to his children, he can say unto them, I leave you 
mine own ; but the usurer cannot say, I leave you mine own, but I leave you other 
men s ; therefore the usurer can never die in peace, because if he die before he 
maketh restitution, he dieth in his sin. Henry Smith. 

Verse 5. Biting usurers were so abhorred in the primitive church, that as 
they condemned the usurer himself, so they made the scribes, who wrote the bonds, 
and also the witnesses, incapable of any benefit ; and that no testament or latter 
will, written by such should be valid. The house of the usurer was called domus 
Satanse, the house of the devil ; and they ordained that no man should eat or drink 
with such usurers, nor fetch fire from them ; and after they were dead that they 
should not be buried in Christian burial. The conclusion of this is (Ezek. xviii. 13), 
this sin is matched with theft ; and verse 11, with adultery ; and verse 12, with 
violence ; it is the daughter of oppression and sister to idolatry, and he that doth 
these things shall not dwell in God s holy hill. Albeit, these worldings think them 
selves more honest than thieves and adulterers, yet the Lord maketh their case 
all alike. John Weemse, 1636. 

Verse 5.- " Taketh reward against the innocent." I am sure this is scala inferni, 
the right way to hell, to be covetous, to take bribes, and pervert justice. If a 
judge should ask me the way to hell, I should show him this way : First, let him 
be a covetous man ; let his heart be poisoned with covetousness. Then let him 
go a little further and take bribes ; and, lastly, pervert judgments. Lo, here is 
the mother, and the daughter, and the daughter s daughter. Avarice is the mother ; 
she brings forth bribe-taking, and bribe-taking perverting of judgment. There 
lacks a fourth thing to make up the mess, which, so help me God, if I were judge, 
should be hangum tuum, a Tyburn tippet to take with him ; an it were the judge 


of the King s Bench, my Lord Judge of England, yea, an it were my Lord Chancellor 
himself, to Tyburn with him. Hugh Latimer. 

Verse 5. " Taketh reward against the innocent." 1 come to corrupt lawyers 
and advocates, who so often take rewards against the innocent, as they do take upon 
them the defence of such causes as they in their own conscience are persuaded to 
be evil and unjust. Which being so common a fault among lawyers, as that very 
few which plead causes, either in civil or ecclesiastical courts, do seem to make 
any conscience thereof, to whom all is fish that cometh to their nets ; therefore 
all lawyers are to be exhorted to apply this note unto themselves. George Downame. 

Verse 5. " He that doeth." Tis not said he that professes this or that, or he 
that believes thus and thus, or he that is of such or such an opinion or way of worship, 
or he that sets up new lights, and pretends the Spirit for his immediate guide ; tis 
not he that hears much or talks much of religion ; no, nor he that preaches and 
prays much, nor he that thinks much of these things, and means well ; but tis he 
that "doeth these things " that is actually employed about them that is the 
religious and truly godly man. Tis not, I say, a formal professor, a confidant 
solifidian, a wild opinionist, a high flown perfect ist ; it is not a constant hearer, 
or a mighty talker, or a laborious teacher, or a gifted brother, or a simple well-wisher 
must pass ; but tis the honest and sincere doer of these things, that will abide the 
test and stand the trial ; when all other flashy pretences shall, in those searching 
flames, be burnt and consumed like " hay and stubble," as the apostle expresses it. 
To wear Christ s livery and to do him no service is but to mock a gracious Master ; 
to own him in our profession and deny him in our practice, is, with Judas, to betray 
him with a kiss of homage ; with the rude soldiers to bow the knee before him, 
and, in the meantime, to beat his sacred head with his reeden sceptre, and with 
Pilate to crown him with thorns, to crucify the Lord and write over his head, " King 
of the Jews : " in a word, to grieve him with our honours, and wound him with our 
acknowledgments. A Christian profession without a life answerable, will be so 
far from saving any one, that twill highly aggravate his condemnation ; when a dis 
sembled friendship at the great day of discoveries shall be looked upon as the worst of 
enmities. A mere outside formality of worship, is at best but Prometheus sacrifice, 
a skeleton of bones and a religious cheat. . . . The harmless humour of meaning 
well is not enough to approve a man s spiritual state, to acquit obligations, or 
to ascertain his expectations. For he that bids us " eschew evil" does immediately 
subjoin, that we must " follow " and " hold fast that which is good." It will be 
no good account not to have done evil, unless we make it appear that we have 
been doing good too ; since the non-commission of great sins will not excuse our 
omission of great duties. In the busy commonwealth of bees, the drone without 
a sting, as she has no weapon for mischief, so, wanting a tool for employ, is 
deservedly cashiered the hive. Condensed from Adam Littleton, D.D., 1627 1694. 

Verse 5. " He that doeth these things, shall never be moved." Mark how the 
prophet saith not, he that readeth these things, or he that heareth these things, 
but he that doth them, shall never be removed. For were it enough to read or 
hear these precepts, then should an infinite number of vain and wicked persons 
enter into, and continue in the church, which notwithstanding have no place 
therein ; for there are very few, or none at all. which have not read, or at least have 
not heard these things, yet they will not do them. Neither doth he say, he that 
talketh of these things, but he that doth them ; for many now in these days can 
talk gloriously of uprightness, justice, truth, in whom notwithstanding, there is 
neither upright dealings, nor sound righteousness, nor unfeigned truth to be found. 
Many can say that slander is sin, injury is iniquity, to receive false reports is un 
charitable, that it becometh not the saints to flatter the wicked, that to break 
promise and falsify their oaths is unseemly, to give upon usury is oppression, to 
receive bribes against the innocent is extreme cruelty ; yet themselves backbite 
and hurt their neighbour, they themselves believe every tale that is brought them, 
they flatter and fawn upon the wicked for advantage, they swear and forswear for 
commodity, they oppress through usury, and receive gifts of bribery against the 

innocent ; and so in word they speak of these things, but do them not indeed 

Neither doth David say he that preacheth these, "shall never be removed," for then 
not only many other wicked persons, which can speak of, yea many ungodly men 
which can also preach of virtue, should have the place in the Lord s tabernacle, 
and rest upon his holy hill ; but also among others, even Balaam the covetous 
prophet, should have a sure place in God s tabernacle ; for he could say, 


If Batak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the 
word of the Lord my God, to do less or more " (Num. xxii. 18) ; yet he took rewards ; 
yet he was carried away with covetousness, as much as in him lay, to work the 
destruction of Israel, the innocent people of the Lord. Richard Turnbull. 

Verse 5. " Shall never be moved." Moved he may be for a time, but not removed 
or pver. His soul is bound up in the bundle of life, near unto the throne of glory ; 
when the souls of the wicked are restless as a stone in the midst of a sling, saith the 
Targum in 1 Sam. xxv. John Trapp. 

Verse 5 (last clause). The holy soul is the love of God, the joy of angels ; her 
eyes dare look upon the glorious Judge whom she knows to be her Saviour. Her 
heart is courageous ; she dares stand the thunder ; and when guilty minds creep 
into corners, she is confident in him that he will defend her. She challengeth the 
whole world to accuse her of injustice, and fears not the subornation of false witnesses, 
because she knows the testimony of her own conscience. Her language is free 
and bold, without the guiltiness of broken stops. Her forehead is clear and smooth, 
as the brow of heaven. Her knees are ever bent to the throne of grace ; her feet 
travelling towards Jerusalem ; her hands weaving the web of righteousness. Good 
men bless her ; good angels guard her ; the Son of God doth kiss her ; and when 
all the world shall be turned to a burning pile, she shall be brought safe to the 
mountain of joy, and set in a throne of blessedness for ever. Thomas Adams. 


Verse 1. Qualifications for church membership on earth and in heaven. A 
subject for self-examination. 

Verse 1. I. Comparison of the church to the tabernacle. God s presence 
manifested, sacrifice offered, and vessels of grace preserved in it ; mean externally, 
glorious within. II. Comparison of its double position to that of the tabernacle. 
Moving in the wilderness, and fixed on the hill. III. Enquire into qualifications 
for admittance into church and tabernacle. Parallel with the priests, etc. 

Verse I. The great question. Asked by idle curiosity, despair, godly fear, 
earnest enquirer, soul troubled by falls of others, holy faith. Give answer to each. 

Verse 1. The citizen of Zion described. Thomas Boston s Sermons. 

Verse 1. Anxiety to know the true saints, how far lawful and profitable. 

Verse I. God the only infallible discerner of true saints. 

Verse 2. " He that walketh uprightly." I. What he must be. He must be 
upright in heart. A man himself bent double cannot walk uprightly. II. How 
he must act. Neither from impulse, ambition, gain, fear, or flattery. He must 
not be warped in any direction, but stand perpendicularly. III. What he must 
expect. Snares, etc. to trip him. IV. Where he must walk. Path of duty, the 
only one in which he can walk uprightly. V. Where he must look. Up, right-up, 
and then he will be upright. 

Verse 2." Speakcth the truth in his heart." Subject : Heart falsehood and 
heart truth. 

Verse 2 (first clause). The citizen of Zion an upright walker. 

Verse 2 (middle clause). The citizen of Zion, a worker of righteousness. 

Verse 2 (last clause). The citizen of Zion, a speaker of truth. Four Sermons 
in Thomas Boston s Works. 

Verse 3. The evils of detraction. It affects three persons here mentioned : 
the backbiter, the suffering neighbour, and the taker-up of the reproach. 

Verse 3. " Nor taketh up a reproach." The sin of being too ready to believe 
ill reports. Common, cruel, foolish, injurious, wicked. 

Verse 4. The duty of practically honouring those who fear the Lord. Commen 
dation, deference, assistance, imitation, etc. 

Verse 4. The sin of estimating persons other than by their practical characters. 

Verse 4 (last clause). The Lord Jesus as our unchanging Surety, his oath and 
his hurt. 

Verse 5. The evidences and privilege! of godly men. 

Verse 5 (lott clause). The fixedness and safety of the godly. 


TITLE. MICHTAM OF DAVID. This is usually understood to mean THE GOLDEN 
PSALM, and such a title is most appropriate, for the matter is as the most fine gold. 
Ainsworth calls it "David s jewel, or notable song." Dr. Hawker, who is always 
alive to passages full of savour, devoutly cries, " Some have rendered it precious, others 
golden, and others, precious jewel ; and as the Holy Ghost, by the apostles Peter and 
Paul, hath shown us that it is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, what is here said of him 
is precious, is golden, is a jewel indeed ! " We have not met with the term Michtam 
before, but if spared to write upon Psalms Ivi., Ivii., Iviii., lix. and lx., we shall see 
it again, and shall observe that like the present these Psalms, although they begin with 
prayer, and imply trouble, abound in holy confidence and close with songs of assurance 
as to ultimate safety and joy. Dr. Alexander, whose notes are peculiarly valuable, 
thinks that the word is most probably a simple derivative of a word signifying to hide, 
and signifies a secret or mystery, and indicates the depth of doctrinal and spiritual 
import in these sacred compositions. If this be the true interpretation it well accords 
with the other, and when the two are put together, they make up a name which every 
reader will remember, and which will bring the precious subject at once to mind. THE 

SUBJECT. We are not left to human interpreters for the key to this golden mystery, 
for, speaking by the Holy Ghost, Peter tells us, " David speaketh concerning HIM." 
(Acts ii. 25). Further on in his memorable sermon he said, " Men and brethren, let 
me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and 
his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that 
God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, 
he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne ; he seeing this before spake of the resur 
rection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." 
(Acts ii. 29 31.) Nor is this our only guide, for the apostle Paul, led by the same 
infallible inspiration, quotes from this Psalm, and testifies that David wrote of the man 
through whom is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins. (Acts xiii. 35 8.) // has 
been the usual plan of commentators to apply the Psalm both to David, to the saints, 
and to the Lord Jesus, but we will venture to believe that in it " Christ is all ; " since 
in the ninth and tenth verses, like the apostles on the mount, we can see " no man but 
Jesus only." 

DIVISION. The whole is so compact that it is difficult to draw sharp lines of division. 
It may suffice to note our Lord s prayer of faith, verse I, avowal of faith in Jehovah alone, 
2, 3, 4, 5, the contentment of his faith in the present, 6, 7, and the joyous confidence 
of his faith for the future (8, 11.) 

pRESERVE me, O God : for in thee do I put my trust. 

" Preserve me," keep, or save me, or as Horsley thinks, " guard me," even as body 
guards surround their monarch, or as shepherds protect their flocks. Tempted 
in all points like as we are, the manhood of Jesus needed to be preserved from the 
power of evil ; and though in itself pure, the Lord Jesus did not confide in that 
purity of nature, but as an example to his followers, looked to the Lord, his God, 
for preservation. One of the great names of God is " the Preserver of men," (Job 
vii. 20), and this gracious office the Father exercised towards our Mediator and 
Representative. It had been promised to the Lord Jesus in express words, that 
he should be preserved, Isa. xlix. 7, 8. " Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of 
Israel and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation 
abhorreth, I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people." This 
promise was to the letter fulfilled, both by providential deliverance and sustaining 
power, in the case of our Lord. Being preserved himself, he is able to restore the 
preserved of Israel, for we are " preserved in Christ Jesus and called." As one with 
him, the elect were preserved in his preservation, and we may view this mediatorial 


supplication as the petition of the Great High Priest for all those who are in him. 
The intercession recorded in John xvii. is but an amplification of this cry, " Holy 
Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they 
may be one, as we are." When he says " preserve me," he means his members, 
his mystical body, himself, and all in him. But while we rejoice in the fact that 
the Lord Jesus used this prayer for his members, we must not forget that he em 
ployed it most surely for himself ; he had so emptied himself, and so truly taken 
upon him the form of a servant, that as man he needed divine keeping even as 
we do, and often cried unto the strong for strength. Frequently on the mountain- 
top he breathed forth this desire, and on one occasion in almost the same words, 
he publicly prayed, " Father, save me from this hour." (John xii. 27.) If Jesus 
looked out of himself for protection, how much more must we, his erring followers, 
do so ! 

" God." The word for God here used in EL SK, by which name the Lord Jesus, 
when under a sense of great weakness, as for instance when upon the cross, wa 
wont to address the Mighty God, the Omnipotent Helper of his people. We, too, 
may turn to El, the Omnipotent One, in all hours of peril, with the confidence that 
he who heard the strong cryings and tears of our faithful High Priest, is both able 
and willing to bless us in him. It is well to study the name and character of God, 
so that in our straits we may know how and by what title to address our Father 
who is in heaven. 

" For in thee do I put my trust," or, / have taken shelter in thee. As chickens run 
beneath the hen, so do I betake myself to thee. Thou art my great overshadowing 
Protector, and I have taken refuge beneath thy strength. This is a potent argument 
in pleading, and our Lord knew not only how to use it with God, but how to yield 
to its power when wielded by others upon himself. " According to thy faith be 
it done unto thee," is a great rule of heaven in dispensing favour, and when we can 
sincerely declare that we exercise faith in the Mighty God with regard to the mercy 
which we seek, we may rest assured that our plea will prevail. Faith, like the 
sword of Saul, never returns empty ; it overcomes heaven when held in the hand of 
prayer. As the Saviour prayed, so let us pray, and as he became more than a 
conqueror, so shall we also through him ; let us when buffeted by storms right 
bravely cry to the Lord as he did, " in thee do I put my trust." 

2 my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord : my good 
ness extendeth not to thee : 

3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom 
is all my delight. 

4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god : their 
drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. 

5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup : thou 
maintainest my lot. 

"O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord." In his inmost 
heart the Lord Jesus bowed himself to do service to his Heavenly Father, and 
before the throne of Jehovah his soul vowed allegiance to the Lord for our sakes. 
We are like him when our soul, truly and constantly in the presence of the heart- 
searching God, declares her full consent to the rule and government of the Infinite 
Jehovah, saying, " Thou art my Lord." To avow this with the lip is little, but 
for the soul to say it, especially in times of trial, is a gracious evidence of spiritual 
health ; to profess it before men is a small matter, but to declare it before Jehovah 
himself is of far more consequence. This sentence may also be viewed as the 
utterance of appropriating faith, laying hold upon the Lord by personal covenant 
and enjoyment ; in this sense may it be our daily song in the house of our pilgrimage. 

" My goodness extendeth not to thee." The work of our Lord Jesus was not need 
ful on account of any necessity in the Divine Being. Jehovah would have been 
inconceivably glorious had the human race perished, and had no atonement been 
offered. Although the life-work and death-agony of the Son did reflect unparalleled 
lustre upon every attribute of God, yet the Most Blessed and Infinitely Happy 
God stood in no need of the obedience and death of his Son ; it was for our sakes 
that the work of redemption was undertaken, and not because of any lack or want 
on the part of the Most High. How modestly does the Saviour here estimate hi* 



own goodness ! What overwhelming reasons have we for imitating his humility ! 
" If thou be righteous, what givest thou him ? or what receiveth he of thine hand ? " 
(Job xxxv. 7.) 

" But to the saints that are in the earth." These sanctified ones, although still 
upon the earth, partake of the results of Jesus mediatorial work, and by his good 
ness are made what they are. The peculiar people, zealous for good works, and 
hallowed to sacred service, are arrayed in the Saviour s righteousness and washed 
in his blood, and so receive of the goodness treasured up in him ; these are the persons 
who are profited by the work of the man Christ Jesus ; but that work added nothing 
to the nature, virtue, or happiness of God, who is blessed for evermore. How much 
more forcibly is this true of us, poor unworthy servants, not fit to be mentioned 
in comparison with the faithful Son of God ! Our hope must ever be that haply 
some poor child of God may be served by us, for the Great Father can never need 
our aid. Well may we sing the verses of Dr. Watts : 

" Oft have my heart and tongue confess d 
How empty and how poor I am ; 
My praise can never make thee blest, 
Nor add new glories to thy name. 
Yet, Lord, thy saints on earth may reap 
Some profit by the good we do ; 
These are the company I keep, 
These are the choicest friends I know." 

Poor believers are God s receivers, and have a warrant from the Crown to receive 
the revenue of our offerings in the King s name. Saints departed we cannot bless ; 
even prayer for them is of no service ; but while they are here we should practically 
prove our love to them, even as our Master did, for they are the excellent of the earth. 
Despite their infirmities, their Lord thinks highly of them, and reckons them to 
be as nobles among men. The title of " His Excellency " more properly belongs 
to the meanest saint than to the greatest governor. The true aristocracy are 
believers in Jesus. They are the only Right Honourables. Stars and garters are 
poor distinctions compared with the graces of the Spirit. He who knows them 
best says of them, " in whom is all my delight." They are his Hephzibah and his 
land Beulah, and before all worlds his delights were with these chosen sons of men. 
Their own opinion of themselves is far other than their Beloved s opinion of them ; 
they count themselves to be less that nothing, yet he makes much of them, and 
sets his heart towards them. What wonders the eyes of Divine Love can see w ere 
the hands of Infinite Power have been graciously at work. It was this quicksighted 
affection which led Jesus to see in us a recompense for all his agony, and susta ned 
him under all his sufferings by the joy of redeeming us from going down into the pit. 

The same loving heart which opens towards the chosen people is fast closed 
against those who continue in their rebellion against God. Jesus hates all 
wickedness, and especially the high crime of idolatry. The text while it shows 
our Lord s abhorrence of sin, shows also the sinner s greediness after it. Professed 
believers are often slow towards the true Lord, but sinners " hasten after another god." 
They run like madmen where we creep like snails. Let their zeal rebuke our 
tardiness. Yet theirs is a case in which the more they haste the worse they speed, 
for their sorrows are multiplied by their diligence in multiplying their sins. Matthew 
Henry pithily says, " They that multiply gods multiply griefs to themselves ; for 
whosoever thinks one god too little, will find two too many, and yet hundreds not 
enough." The cruelties and hardships which men endure for their false gods is 
wonderful to contemplate ; our missionary reports are a noteworthy comment 
on this passage ; but perhaps our own experience is an equally vivid exposition ; 
for when we have given our heart to idols, sooner or later we have had to smart 
for it. Near the roots of our self-love all our sorrows lie, and when that idol is 
overthrown, the sting is gone from grief. Moses broke the golden calf and ground 
it to powder, and cast it into the water of which he made Israel to drink, and so 
shall our cherished idols become bitter portions for us, unless we at once forsake 
them. Our Lord had no selfishness ; he served but one Lord, and served him only. 
As for those who turn aside from Jehovah, he was separate from them, bearing their 
reproach without the camp. Sin and the Saviour had no communion. He came 
to destroy, not to patronize or be allied with the works of the devil. Hence he 
refused the testimony of unclean spirits as to his divinity, for in nothing would he 
have fellowship with darkness. We should be careful above measure not to connect 


ourselves in the remotest degree with falsehood in religion ; even the most solemn 
of Popish rites we must abhor. " Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer." 
The old proverb says, " It is not safe to eat at the devil s mess, though the spoon 
be never so long." The mere mentioning of ill names it were well to avoid, " nor 
take up their names into my lips." If we allow poison upon the lip, it may ere long 
penetrate to the inwards, and it is well to keep out of the mouth that which we 
would shut out from the heart. If the Church would enjoy union with Christ, 
she must break all the bonds of impiety, and keep herself pure from all the pollutions 
of carnal will-worship, which now pollute the service of God. Some professors 
are guilty of great sin in remaining in the communion of Popish churches, where 
God is as much dishonoured as in Rome herself, only in a more crafty manner. 

" The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup." With what con 
fidence and bounding joy does Jesus turn to Jehovah, whom his soul possessed 
and delighted in ! Content beyond measure with his portion in the Lord his God, 
he had not a single desire with which to hunt after other gods ; his cup was full, 
and his heart was full too ; even in his sorest sorrows he still laid hold with both 
his hands upon his Father, crying, " My God, my God ; " he had not so much as a 
thought of falling down to worship the prince of this world, although tempted 
with an " all these will I give thee." We, too, can make our boast in the Lord ; 
he is the meat and the drink of our souls. He is our portion, supplying all our 
necessities, and our cup yielding royal luxuries ; our cup in this life, and our in 
heritance in the life to come. As children of the Father who is in heaven, we inherit, 
by virtue of our joint heirship with Jesus, all the riches of the covenant of grace ; 
and the portion which falls to us sets upon our table the bread of heaven and the 
new wine of the kingdom. Who would not be satisfied with such dainty diet ? 
Our shallow cup of sorrow we may well drain with resignation, since the deep cup 
of love stands side by side with it, and will never be empty. " Thou maintainest 
my lot." Some tenants have a covenant in their leases that they themselves shall 
maintain and uphold, but in our case Jehovah himself maintains our lot. Our 
Lord Jesus delighted in this truth, that the Father was on his side, and would maintain 
his right against all the wrongs of men. He knew that his elect would be reserved 
for him, and that almighty power would preserve them as his lot and reward for 
ever. Let us also be glad, because the Judge of all the earth will vindicate our 
righteous cause. 

6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly 

7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel : my reins also in 
struct me in the night seasons. 

Jesus found the way of obedience to lead into " pleasant places." Notwith 
standing all the sorrows which marred his countenance, he exclaimed, " Lo, I come ; 
in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God : 
yea, thy law is within my heart." It may seem strange, but while no other man 
was ever so thoroughly acquainted with grief, it is our belief that no other man 
ever experienced so much joy and delight in service, for no other served so faithfully 
and with such great results in view as his recompense of reward. The joy which 
was set before him must have sent some of its beams of splendour a-down the 
rugged places where he endured the cross, despising the shame, and must have 
made them in some respects pleasant places to the generous heart of the Redeemer. 
At any rate, we know that Jesus was well content with the blood-bought portion 
which the lines of electing love marked off as his spoil with the strong and his portion 
with the great. Therein he solaced himself on earth, and delights himself in heaven ; 
and he asks no more " GOODLY HERITAGE " than that his own beloved may be with 
him where he is and behold his glory. All the saints can use the language of this 
verse, and the more thoroughly they can enter into its contented, grateful, joyful 
spirit the better for themselves, and the more glorious to their God. Our Lord 
was poorer than we are, for he had not where to lay his head, and yet when he 
mentioned his poverty he never used a word of murmuring ; discontented spirits 
are as unlike Jesus as the croaking raven is unlike the cooing dove. Martyrs have 
been happy in dungeons. " From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison the 
Italian martyr dated his letter, and the presence of God made the gridiron of Laurence 
pleasant to him." Mr. Greenham was bold enough to say, " They never felt God s 


love, or tasted forgiveness of sins, who are discontented." Some divines think 
that discontent was the first sin, the rock which wrecked our race in paradise ; 
certainly there can be no paradise where this evil spirit has power, its slime will 
poison all the flowers of the garden. 

"/ will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel." Praise as well as prayer was 
presented to the Father by our Lord Jesus, and we are not truly his followers unless 
our resolve be, " I will bless the Lord." Jesus is called Wonderful, Counsellor, but 
as man he spake not of himself, but as his Father had taught him. Read in con 
firmation of this, John vii. 16 ; viii. 28 ; and xii. 49, 50 ; and the prophecy 
concerning him in Isaiah xi. 2, 3. It was our Redeemer s wont to repair to his 
Father for direction, and having received it, he blessed him for giving him counsel. 
It would be well for us if we would follow his example of lowliness, cease from 
trusting in our own understanding, and seek to be guided by the Spirit of God. 
" My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." By the reins understand the 
inner man, the affections and feelings. The communion of the soul with God brings 
to it an inner spiritual wisdom which in still seasons is revealed to itself. Our 
Redeemer spent many nights alone upon the mountain, and we may readily conceive 
that together with his fellowship with heaven, he carried on a profitable commerce 
with himself ; reviewing his experience, forecasting his work, and considering 
his position. Great generals fight their battles in their own mind long before the 
trumpet sounds, and so did our Lord win our battle on his knees before he gained 
it on the cross. It is a gracious habit after taking counsel from above to take counsel 
within. Wise men see more with their eyes shut by night than fools can see by 
day with their eyes open. He who learns from God and so gets the seed, will soon 
find wisdom within himself growing in the garden of his soul ; " Thine ears shall 
hear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to 
the right hand and when ye turn to the left." The night season which the sinner 
chooses for his sins is the hallowed hour of quiet when believers hear the soft still 
voices of heaven, and of the heavenly life within themselves. 

8 I have set the LORD always before me : because he is at my right hand, 
I shall not be moved. 

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth : my flesh also shall 
rest in hope. 

10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell ; neither wilt thou suffer thine 
Holy One to see corruption. 

n Thou wilt shew me the path of life : in thy presence is fulness of joy ; 
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. 

The fear of death at one time cast its dark shadow over the soul of the Redeemer, 
and w r e read that " he was heard in that he feared." There appeared unto him 
an angel, strengthening him; perhaps the heavenly messenger reassured him of his 
glorious resurrection as his people s surety, and of the eternal joy into which he 
should admit the flock redeemed by blood. Then hope shone full upon our Lord s 
soul, and, as recorded in these verses, he surveyed the future with holy confidence 
because he had a continued eye to Jehovah, and enjoyed his perpetual presence. 
He felt that thus sustained, he could never be driven from his life s grand design ; 
nor was he, for he stayed not his hand till he could say, " It is finished." What an 
infinite mercy was this for us ! In this immoveableness, caused by simple faith 
in the divine help, Jesus is to be viewed as our exemplar ; to recognize the presence 
of the Lord is the duty of every believer ; "I have set the Lord always before me ; " 
and to trust the Lord as our champion and guard is the privilege of every saint ; 
" because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." The apostle translates this 
passage, " I foresaw the Lord always before my face ; " Acts ii. 25 ; the eye of 
Jesus faith could discern beforehand the continuance of divine support to his 
suffering Son, in such a degree that he should never be moved from the accomplish 
ment of his purpose of redeeming his people. By the power of God at his right 
hand he foresaw that he should smite through all who rose up against him, and 
on that power he placed the firmest reliance. He clearly foresaw that he must 
die, for he speaks of his flesh resting, and of his soul in the abode of separate spirits ; 
death was full before his fnce, or he would not have mentioned corruption ; but 
such was his devout reliance upon his God, that he sang over the tomb, and rejoiced 


In vision of the sepulchre. He knew that the visit of his soul to Sheol,orthe invisible 
world of disembodied spirits, would be a very short one, and that his body in a 
very brief space would leave the grave, uninjured by its sojourn there ; all this 
made him say, " my heart is glad," and moved his tongue, the glory of his frame, 
to rejoice in God, the strength of his salvation. Oh for such holy faith in the prospect 
of trial and of death ! It is the work of faith, not merely to create a peace which 
passeth all understanding, but to fill the heart full of gladness until the tongue, 
which, as the organ of an intelligent creature, is our glory, bursts forth in notes of 
harmonious praise. Faith gives us living joy, and bestows dying rest. "My flesh 
also shall rest in hope." 

Our Lord Jesus was not disappointed in his hope. He declared his Father s 
faithfulness in the words, " thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," and that faithfulness 
was proven on the resurrection morning. Among the departed and disembodied 
Jesus was not left ; he had believed in the resurrection, and he received it on the 
third day, when his body rose in glorious life, according as he had said in joyous 
confidence, " neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Into the 
outer prison of the grave his body might go, but into the inner prison of corruption 
he could not enter. He who in soul and body was pre-eminently God s " Holy 
One," was loosed from the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should 
be holden of it. This is noble encouragement to all the saints ; die they must, 
but rise they shall, and though in their case they shall see corruption, yet they 
shall rise to everlasting life. Christ s resurrection is the cause, the earnest, the 
guarantee, and the emblem of the rising of all his people. Let them, therefore, 
go to their graves as to their beds, resting their flesh among the clods as they now 
do upon their couches. 

" Since Jesus is mine, I ll not fear undressing, 
But gladly put off these garments of clay ; 
To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing, 

Since Jesus to glory through death led the way." 

Wretched will that man be who, when the Philistines of death invade his soul, 
shall find that, like Saul, he is forsaken of God ; but blessed is he who has the 
Lord at his right hand, for he shall fear no ill, but shall look forward to an eternity 
of bliss. 

11. " Thou wilt shew me the path of life." To Jesus first this way was shown, 
for he is the first-begotten from the dead, the first-born of every creature. He 
himself opened up the way through his own flesh, and then trod it as the forerunner 
of his own redeemed. The thought of being made the path of life to his people, 
gladdened the soul of Jesus. " In thy presence is fulness of joy." Christ being 
raised from the dead ascended into glory, to dwell in constant nearness to God, 
where joy is at its full for ever : the foresight of this urged him onward in his 
glorious but grievous toil. To bring his chosen to eternal happiness was the high 
ambition which inspired him, and made him wade through a sea of blood. O God, 
when the worldling s mirth has all expired, for ever with Jesus may we dwell " at 
thy right hand," where " there are pleasures for evermore ; " and meanwhile, may 
we have an earnest by tasting thy love below. Trapp s note on the heavenly verse 
which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel, which may serve for a contemplation, 
and yield a foretaste of our inheritance. He writes, " Here is as much said as 
can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and 
pleasures ; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing ; 
for constancy, it is at God s right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any 
take us out of his hand ; it is a constant happiness without intermission : and for 
perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven s joys are without measure, mixture, or 


Title. There is a diversity of opinion as to the meaning of the title of this Psalm. 
It is called " Michtam of David," but Michtam is the Hebrew word untranslated 
the Hebrew word in English letters and its signification is involved in obscurity. 
According to some, it is derived from a verb which means to hide, and denotes a 
mystery or secret. Those who adopt this view, regard the title as indicating a 


depth of doctrinal and spiritual import in the Psalm, which neither the writer nor 
any of his contemporaries had fathomed. According to others, it is derived from 
a verb which means to cut, to grave, to write, and denotes simply a writing of David. 
With this view agree the Chaldee and Septuagint versions, the former translating 
it, " a straight sculpture of David ; " and the latter, " an inscription upon a pillar 
to David." Others again, look upon " Michtam," as being derived from a noun 
which means gold, and they understand it as denoting a golden Psalm a Psalm 
of surpassing excellence, and worthy of being written in letters of gold. This was 
the opinion of our translators, and hence they have rendered it on the margin 
"A golden Psalm of David." The works of the most excellent Arabian poets were 
called golden, because they were written in letters of gold ; and this golden song 
may have been written and hung up in some conspicuous part of the Temple. Many 
other interpretations have been given of this term, but at this distance of time, we 
can only regard it as representing some unassignable peculiarity of the composition. 
James Frame, 1858. 

Title. Such are the riches of this Psalm, that some have been led to think the 
obscure title, "Michtam," has been prefixed to it on account of its golden stores. 
For on| is used of the " gold of Ophir " (e.g., Psalm xlv. 9), and oi??9 might be 
a derivative from that root. But as there is a group of five other Psalms (namely, 
Ivi., Ivii., Iviii., lix., lx.), that bear this title, whose subject-matter is various, but 
which all end in a tone of triumph, it has been suggested that the Septuagint may 
be nearly right in their ZryXoypa.^, as if " A Psalm to be hung up or inscribed 
on a pillar to commemorate victory." It is, however, more likely still that the 
term "Michtam " (like "Maschil "), is a musical term, whose real meaning and 
use we have lost, and may recover only when the ransomed house of Israel return 
home with songs. Meanwhile, the subject-matter of this Psalm itself is very clearly 
this the righteous one s satisfaction with his lot. Andrew A. Bonar. 

Whole Psalm. Allow that in verse ten it is clear that our Lord is in this Psalm, 
yet the application of every verse to Jesus in Gethsemane appears to be far-fetched, 
and inaccurate. How verse nine could suit the agony and bloody sweat, it is hard 
to conceive, and equally so is it with regard to verse six. The " cup " of verse 
five is so direct a contrast to that cup concerning which Jesus prayed in anguish 
of spirit, that it cannot be a reference to it. Yet we think it right to add, that 
Mr. James Frame has written a very valuable work on this Psalm, entitled, " Christ 
in Gethsemane," and he has supported his theory by the opinion of many of the 
ancients. He says, " All the distinguished interpreters of ancient days, such as 
Eusebius, Jerome, and Augustine, explain the Psalm as referring to the Messiah, 
in his passion and his victory over death and the grave, including his subsequent 
exaltation to the right hand of God ; " and in a foot note he gives the following 

quotations : Jerome. " The Psalm pertains to Christ, who speaks in it It 

is the voice of our King, which he utters in the human nature that he had assumed, 
but without detracting from his divine nature. . . . The Psalm pertains to his passion." 
Augustine. " Our King speaks in this Psalm in the person of the human nature 
that he assumed, at the time of his passion, the royal title inscribed will show itself 
conspicuous." C. H. S. 

Whole Psalm. The present Psalm is connected in thought and language with 
the foregoing, and linked on to the following Psalm by catchwords. It is entitled 
in the Syriac and Arabic versions, a Psalm on the Election of the Church, and on 
the Resurrection of Christ." Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., 1868. 

Verse 1. " Preserve me, O God." Here David desireth not deliverance from 
any special trouble, but generally prayeth to be fenced and defended continually 
by the providence of God, wishing that the Lord would continue his mercy towards 
him unto the end, and in the end ; whereby he foresaw it was as needful for him 
to be safe guarded by God, his protection in the end, as at the time present ; as 
also how he made no less account of it in his prosperity than in adversity. So that 
the man of God still feared his infirmity, and therefore acknowledgeth himself ever 
to stand in need of God his help. And here is a sure and undoubted mark of the 
child of God, when a man shall have as great a care to continue and grow in well 
doing, as to begin ; and this paying for the gift of final perseverance is a special 
note of the child of God. This holy jealousy of the man of God made him so to 
desire to be preserved at all times, in all estates, both in soul and body. Richard 
Greenham, 15311591. 


Verne 1. "For in ihtt do I put my trust." Here the prophet setteth down 
the cause why he prayeth to God : whereby he declareth, that none can truly call 
upon God unless they believe. Rom. x. 14. " How shall they call on him in whom 
they have not believed ? " In regard whereof, as he prayeth to God to be his 
Saviour, so he is fully assured that God will be his Saviour. If, then, without 
faith we cannot truly call upon God, the men of this world rather prate like parrots 
than pray like Christians, at what time they utter these words ; for that they trust 
not in God they declare both by neglecting the lawful means, and also in using 
unlawful means. Some we see trust in friends ; some shoulder out, as they think, 
the cross with their goods ; some fence themselves with authority ; others bathe 
and baste themselves in pleasure to put the evil day far from them ; others make 
flesh their arm ; and others make the wedge of gold their confidence ; and these 
men when they seek for help at the Lord, mean in their hearts to find it in their 
friends, good authority and pleasure, howsoever for fear, they dare not say this 
outwardly. Again, here we are to observe under what shelter we may harbour 
ourselves in the showers of adversity, even under the protection of the Almighty. 
And why ? " Whoso dwelleth in the secret of the Most High, shall abide in the 
shadow of the Almighty." And here in effect is showed, that whosoever putteth 
his trust in God shall be preserved ; otherwise the prophet s reason here had not 
been good. Besides, we see he pleadeth not by merit, but sueth by faith, teaching 
us that if we come with like faith, we may obtain the like deliverance. Richard 

Verse 2. " my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord." I wish 
I could have heard what you said to yourself when these words were first mentioned. 
I believe I could guess the language of some of you. When you heard me repeat 
these words, " my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord," you thought, 
" I have never said anything to the Lord, unless when I cried out, Depart from me, 
for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways." Has not something like this passed 
in your minds ? I will try again. When I first mentioned the text, " Let me 
consider," you secretly said, " I believe that I did once say to the Lord, Thou art 
my Lord ; but it was so long ago, that I had almost forgotten it ; but I suppose 
that it must have been at such a time when I was in trouble. I had met with 
disappointments in the world ; and then, perhaps, I cried, Thou art my portion, 
O Lord. Or, perhaps, when I was under serious impressions, in the hurry of my 
spirits, I might look up to God and say, Thou art my Lord. But, whatever I could 
or did formerly say, I am certain that I cannot say it at present." Have none of 
you thought in this manner ? I will hazard one conjecture more ; and I doubt 
not but in this case I shall guess rightly. When I repeated these words, " O my 
soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord;" "So have I," thought one ; 
" So have I," thought another ; I have said it often, but I said it with peculiar 
solemnity and pleasure, when, in an act of humble devotion, I lately threw my 
ransomed, rescued, grateful soul at his feet, and cried, " O Lord, truly I am thy 
servant ; I am thy servant ; thou hast loosed my bonds." The very recollection 
of it is pleasant ; and I shall now have an opportunity of renewing my vows, and 
hope to recover something of the divine serenity and joy which I at that time 
experienced." Samuel Lavington s Sermons, 1810. 

Verse 2. " Thou art my Lord." He acknowledgeth the Lord Jehovah ; but 
he seeth him not as it were then afar off, but drawing near unto him, he sweetly 
embraceth him ; which thing is proper unto faith, and to that particular applying 
which we say to be in faith. Robert Rollock, 1600. 

Verse 2. " My goodness extendeth not to thce." I think the words should be 
understood of what the Messiah was doing for men. My goodness, njse tobhathi, 
" my bounty " is not to thee. What I am doing can add nothing to thy divinity ; 
thou art not providing this astonishing sacrifice because thou canst derive any 
excellence from it ; but this bounty extends to the saints to all the spirits of just 
men made perfect, whose bodies are still in the earth ; and to the excellent, m* 
addirey, " the noble or super-eminent ones," those who through faith and patience 
inherit the promises. The saints and illustrious ones not only taste of my goodness, 
but enjoy my salvation. Perhaps angels themselves may be intended ; they are 
not uninterested in the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. 
They desire to look into these things ; and the victories of the cross in the conversion 
of sinners cause joy among the angels of God. Adam Clarke. 


Verse 2. " My goodness extendeth not to thee ; " " My well-doing extendeth 
not to thee." Oh, what shall I render unto thee, my God, for all thy benefits to 
wards me ? what shall I repay ? Alas ! I can do thee no good, for mine imperfect 
goodness cannot pleasure thee who art most perfect and goodness itself ; my well 
doing can do thee no good, my wickedness can do thee no harm. I receive all good 
from thee, but no good can I return to thee ; wherefore I acknowledge thee to be 
most rich, and myself to be most beggarly ; so far off is it that thou standest in any 
need of me. Wherefore I will join myself to thy people, that whatsoever I have 
they may profit by it ; and whatsoever they have I may profit by it, seeing the 
things that I have received must be put out to loan, to gain some comfort to others. 
Whatsoever others have, they have not for their own private use, but that by them, 
as by pipes and conduits, they liberally should be conveyed unto me also. Wherefore 
in this strain we are taught, that if we be the children of God, we must join ourselves 
in a holy league to his people, and by mutual participation of the gifts of God, we 
must testify each to other, that we be of the number and communion of saints ; and 
this is an undoubted badge and cognizance of him that loveth God, if he also loveth 
them that are begotten of God. Wherefore, if we so profess ourselves to be of 
God and to worship him, then we must join ourselves to the church of God which 
with us doth worship God. And this must we do of necessity, for it is a branch 
of our belief that there is a communion of saints in the church ; and if we believe 
that there is a God, we must also believe that there is a remnant of people, unto 
whom God revealeth himself, and communicateth his mercies, in whom we must 
have all our delight, to whom we must communicate according to the measure of 
grace unto every one of us. Richard Greenham. 

Verse 2. " My goodness extendeth not to thee." Oh, how great is God s good 
ness to you ! He calls upon others for the same things, and conscience stands 
as Pharaoh s taskmasters, requiring the tale of bricks but not allowing straw ; 
it impels and presseth, but gives no enlargement of heart, and buffets and wounds 
them for neglect : as the hard creditor that, taking the poor debtor by the throat, 
saith, " Pay me that thou owest me," but yields him no power to do it ; thus God 
might deal with you also, for he oweth not assistance to us ; but we owe obedience to 
him. Remember, we had power, and it is just to demand what we cannot do, 
because the weakness that is in us is of ourselves : we have impoverished ourselves. 
Therefore, when in much mercy he puts forth his hand into the work with thee, 
be very thankful. If the work be not done, he is no loser ; if done, and well done, 
he is no gainer. Job xxii. 2 ; xxxv. 6 8. But the gain is all to thee ; all the 
good that comes by it is to thyself. Joseph Symonds, 1639. 

Verse 2 (last clause). It is a greater glory to us that we are allowed to serve 
God, than it is to him that we offer him that service. He is not rendered happy 
by us ; but we are made happy by him. He can do without such earthly servants ; 
but we cannot do without such a heavenly Master. William Seeker. 

Verse 2 (last clause). There is nothing added to God : he is so perfect, that 
no sin can hurt him ; and so righteous, that no righteousness can benefit him. 
O Lord, my righteousness extendeth not to thee ! thou hast no need of my righteous 
ness. Acts xvii. 24, 25. God hath no need of anything. Richard Stock, 1641. 

Verse 2. As Christ is the head of man, so is God the head of Christ (1 Cor. 
xi. 3); and as man is subject unto Christ, so is Christ subject to God; not in regard 
of the divine nature, wherein there is an equality, and consequently no dominion of 
jurisdiction ; nor only in his human nature, but in the economy of a Redeemer, 
considered as one designed, and consenting to be incarnate, and take our flesh ; 
so that after this agreement God had a sovereign right to dispose of him according 
to the articles consented to. In regard of his undertaking and the advantage 
he was to bring to the elect of God upon earth, he calls God by the solemn title of 
" his Lord." " O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord : my 
goodness extendeth not to thee ; but to the saints that are in the earth." It seems 
to be the speech of Christ in heaven, mentioning the saints on earth as at. a distance 
from him. I can add nothing to the glory of thy majesty, but the whole fruit of 
my meditation and suffering will redound to the saints on earth. Stephen Charnock. 

Verses 2, 3. " My goodness extendeth not to thee ; but to the saints." God s 
goodness to us should make us merciful to others. It were strange indeed a soul 
should come out of his tender bosom with a hard uncharitable heart. Some children 
do not indeed take after their earthly parents, as Cicero s son, who had nothing 
of his father but his name ; but God s children all partake of their heavenly Father s 


nature. Pnilosophy tells us, that there is no reaction from the earth to the heavens ; 
they indeed shed their influences upon the lower world, which quicken and fructify 
it, but the earth returns none back to make the sun shine the better. David knew 
that his goodness extendeth not unto God, but this made him reach it forth to his 
brethren. Indeed, God hath left his poor saints to receive the rents we owe unto 
him for his mercies. An ingenuous guest, though his friend will take nothing for 
his entertainment, yet, to show his thankfulness, will give something to his servants. 
William Gurnall. 

Verse 3. " But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom 
is all my delight." My brethren, look upon saintship as the greatest excellency 
to love it. So did Christ. His eye was " upon the excellent ones in the earth ; " 
that is, upon the saints, who were excellent to him ; yea, also even when not saints, 
because God loved them. Isaiah xliii. 4. It is strange to hear how men by their 
speeches will undervalue a saint as such, if without some other outward excellency. 
For whilst they acknowledge a man a saint, yet in other respects, they will contemn 
him ; " He is a holy man," they will say, " but he is weak," etc. But is he a saint ? 
And can there be any such other imperfection or weakness found as shall lay him 
low in thy thoughts in comparison of other carnal men more excellent ? Hath 
not Christ loved him, bought him, redeemed him ? Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 3. " But to the saints." 1 understand that a man then evinces affection 
towards God, and towards those who love God, when his soul yearns after them 
when he obliges himself to love them by practically serving and benefiting them 
acting towards them as he would act towards God himself were he to see him in 
need of his service, as David says he did. Juan de Valdes, 1550. 

Verse 3. " The saints." The Papists could abide no saints but those which 
are in heaven ; which argueth that they live in a kingdom of darkness, and err, not 
knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God ; for if they were but meanly con 
versant in the Scriptures, in the holy epistles, they should find almost in every epistle 
mention made of the saints who are thereunto called in Jesus Christ, through whom 
they are sanctified by the Holy Ghost. And mark, he calleth them " excellent." 
Some think rich men to be excellent, some think learned men to be excellent, some 
count men in authority so to be, but here we are taught that those men are excellent 
who are sanctified by God s graces. Richard Greenham. 

Verse 3. By David s language, there were many singular saints in his day : 
" To the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight." 
Was it so then, and should it not be so now ? We know the New Testament out 
shines the Old as much as the sun outshines the moon. If we then live in a more 

glorious dispensation, should we not maintain a more glorious conversation ? 

" The excellent." Were the sun to give no more delight than a star, you could not 
believe he was the regent of the day ; were he to transmit no more heat than a glow 
worm, you would question his being the source of elementary heat. Were God to 
do no more than a creature, where would his Godhead be ? Were a man to do no 
more than a brute, where would his manhood be ? Were not a saint to excel a 
sinner, where would his sanctity be ? William Seeker. 

Verse 3. Ingo, an ancient king of the Draves, who making a stately feast, 
appointed his nobles, at that time Pagans, to sit in the hall below, and commanded 
certain poor Christians to be brought up into his presence-chamber, to sit with him 
at his table, to eat and drink of his kingly cheer, at which many w r ondering, 
he said, he accounted Christians, though never so poor, a greater ornament to 
his table, and more worthy of his company than the greatest peers unconverted 
to the Christian faith ; for when these might be thrust down to hell, those might 
be his comforts and fellow princes in heaven. Although you see the stars sometimes 
by their reflections in a puddle, in the bottom of a well, or in a stinking ditch, yet 
the stars have their situation in heaven. So, although you see a godly man in a 
poor, miserable, low, despised condition, for the things of this world, yet he is fixed 
in heaven, in the region of heaven : " Who hath raised us up," saith the apostle, 
" and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Charles Bradbury s 
" Cabinet of Jewels," 1785. 

Verse 3. To sum up all, we must know that we neither do nor can love the godly 
so well as \ve should do ; but all is well if we would love them better, and do like 
ourselves the less because we do love them no more, and that this is common or 
usual with me, then I am right : so that we are to love the godly first because God 


commands it, because they are good ; and in these cases our faith doth work by 
our love to good men. Next, when I am at the worst, like a sick sheep, I care not 
for the company of other sheep, but do mope in a corner by myself ; but yet I do not 
delight in the society of goats or dogs, it proves that I have some good blood left 
in me ; it is because for the present I take little or no delight in myself or in my God, 
that I delight no better in the godly : yet as I love myself for all that, so I may be 
said to love them for all this. Man indeed is a sociable creature, a company-keeper 
by nature when he is himself ; and if we do not associate ourselves with the ungodly, 
though for the present, and care not much to show ourselves amongst the godly, 
the matter is not much, it is a sin of infirmity, not a fruit of iniquity. The disciples 
went from Christ, but they turned not to the other side as Judas did, who did for 
sake his Master and joined himself to his Master s enemies, but they got together. 
Some say Demas did repent (which I think to be the truth), and then he did " em 
brace this present world," but for the present fit : put case he did forsake Paul ; 
so did better men than he. Indeed as long as a man hath his delights about him, 
he will embrace the delights of this present world, or the delights which belong to the 
world to come ; join with Paul, or cleave to the world. In this temptation our stay 
is, first, that we care not for the company of goats ; next, that as we should, so 
we would, and desire that we may take delight in the company of sheep, to count 
them the only excellent men in the world, in whom is all our delight. The conclusion 
is, that to love the saints as saints, is a sound proof of faith ; the reason is, for that 
we cannot master our affections by love, but first we must master our understandings 
by faith. Richard Capel, 1586 1656. 

Verse 4. " Drink offerings of blood." The Gentiles used to offer, and some 
times to drink part of the blood of their sacrifices, whether of beasts or of men, as 
either of them were sacrificed. Matthew Poole. 

Verse 4. " Drink offerings of blood." It is uncertain whether this expression 
is to be understood literally to be blood, which the heathen actually mixed in their 
libations when they bound themselves to the commission of some dreadful deed, or 
whether their libations are figuratively called offerings of blood to denote the horror 
with which the writer regarded them. George R. Noyes, in loc, 1846. 

Verse 4 (last clause). A sin rolled under the tongue becomes soft and supple, 
and the throat is so short and slippery a passage, that insensibly it may slide down 
from the mouth into the stomach ; and contemplative wantonness quickly turns into 
practical uncleanness. Thomas Fuller. 

Verse 5. " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance." If the Lord be thy 
portion, then thou mayst conclude omnipotency is my portion, immensity, all- 
sufficiency, etc. Say not, If so, then I should be omnipotent, etc. There is a vast 
difference betwixt identity and interest, betwixt conveying of a title and trans 
mutation of nature. A friend gives thee an invaluable treasure, and all the securities 
of it that thou canst desire ; wilt thou deny it is thine because thou art not changed 
into its nature ? The attributes are thine, as thy inheritance, as thy lands are thine ; 
not because thou art changed into their nature, but because the title is conveyed 
to thee, it is given thee, and improved for thy benefit. If another manage it, who 
can do it with greater advantage to thee than thou to thyself, it is no infringement of 

thy title The Lord is our portion, and this is incomparably more than if we 

had heaven and earth ; for all the earth is but as a point compared with the vastness 
of the heavens, and the heavens themselves are but a point compared with God. 
What a large possession have we then ! There is no confiscation of it, no banishment 
from it. Our portion fills heaven and earth, and is infinitely above heaven and 
below earth, and beyond both. Poor men boast and pride themselves of a kingdom, 
but we have more than all the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof. Christ 
has given us more than the devil could offer him. David Clarkson. 

Verse 5. " Portion of mine inheritance and of my cup," may contain an allusion 
to the daily supply of food, and also to the inheritance of Levi. Deut. xviii. 1, 2. 
" Critical and Explanatory Pocket Bible." By A. R. Fausset and B. M. Smith, 1867. 

Verses 5, 6. " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance : the lines are fallen 
unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." "Blessed are the people 
that are in such a case ; yea, blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." No 
greater mercy can be bestowed upon any people, family, or person, than this, for 
God to dwell among them. If we value this mercy according to the excellency 


and worth of that which is bestowed, it is the greatest ; if we value it according to 
the good will of him that gives it, it will appear likewise to be the greatest favour. 
The greatness of the good will of God in giving himself to be our acquaintance, is 
evident in the nature of the gift. A man may give his estate to them to whom his 
love is not very large, but he never gives himself but upon strong affection. God 
gives abundantly to all the works of his hands ; he causeth the sun to shine upon the 
evil and upon the good, and the rain to descend upon the just and the unjust ; but 
it cannot be conceived that he should give himself to be a portion, a friend, father, 
husband, but in abundance of love. Whosoever therefore shall refuse acquaintance 
with God, slighteth the greatest favour that ever God did bestow upon man. Now, 
consider what a high charge this is ; to abuse such a kindness from God is an act 
of the greatest vileness. David was never so provoked as when the king of Ammon 
abused his kindness, in his ambassadors, after his father s death. And God is highly 
provoked when his greatest mercies, bestowed in the greatest love, are rejected 

and cast away. What could God give more and better than himself ? Ask 

David what he thinks of God ; he was well acquainted with him, he dwelt in his 
house, and by his good will would never be out of his more immediate presence and 
company : enquire, I pray, what he found amiss in him. That you may know his 
mind the better, he hath left it upon record in more than one or two places, what a 
friend he hath had of God. " The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, 
I have a goodly heritage." Why, what is that you boast of so much, O David ? 
Have not others had kingdoms as well as you ? No, that s not the thing ; a crown is 
one of the least jewels in my cabinet : " The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance 
and of my cup." James Janeway. 

Verses 5, 6. Take notice not only of the mercies of God, but of God in the mercies. 
Mercies are never so savoury as when they savour of a Saviour. Ralph Yenning, 

Verse 6. " The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly 
heritage." Bitter herbs will go down very well, when a man has such delicious 
" meats which the world knows not of." The sense of our Father s love is like 
honey at the end of every rod ; it turns stones into bread, and water into wine, 
and the valley of trouble into a door of hope ; it makes the biggest evils seem as if they 
were none, or better than none ; for it makes our deserts like the garden of the 
Lord, and when we are upon the cross for Christ, as if we were in paradise with 
Christ. Who would quit his duty for the sake of suffering, that hath such relief 
under it ? Who would not rather walk in truth, when he hath such a cordial to 
support him, than by the conduct of fleshly wisdom, to take any indirect or irregular 
method for his own deliverance ? Timothy Cruso. 

Verse 6. " The lines." Probably alluding to the division of the land by lot, 
and the measuring of it of! by ropes and lines. David believed in an overruling 
destiny which fixed the bounds of his abode, and his possessions ; he did more, 
he was satisfied with all the appointment of the predestinating God. C. H. S. 

Verse 7. "/ will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel." The Holy Ghost is a 
spirit of counsel, powerfully instructing and convincingly teaching how to act and 
walk, for he directs us to set right steps, and to walk with a right foot, and thereby 
prevents us of many a sin, by seasonable instruction set on upon our hearts with a 
strong hand ; as Isaiah viii. 11. For, as the same prophet says (Isaiah xi. 2), he is 
the spirit of counsel and of might. Of counsel to direct ; of might, to strengthen 
the inner man. Such he was to Christ the Head, of whom it is there spoken. For 
instance, in that agony (on the determination of which our salvation depended), 
and conflict in the garden, when he prayed, " Let this cup pass," it was this good 
Spirit that counselled him to die ; and he blesseth God for it. " I bless the Lord 
that hath given me counsel." It was that counsel that in that case caused his heart 
to say, " Not my will, but thine." Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 7. " My reins." Common experience shows that the workings of the 
mind, particularly the passions of joy, grief, and fear, have a very remarkable effect 
on the reins or kidneys, and from their retired situation in the body, and their being 
hid in fat, they are often used in Scripture to denote the most secret working of 
the soul and affections. John Parkhurst. 

Verse 1. " My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." This shows that 
God, who, he says, was always present to him, had given him some admonition 


in his dreams, or at least his waking thoughts by night, from whence he gathered a 
certain assurance of his recovery ; possibly he might be directed to some remedy. 
Antonine thanks the gods for directing him in his sleep to remedies. Z. Madge, in 
loc, 1744. 

Verse 7. "My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." We have a saying 
among ourselves that " the pillow is the best counsellor ; " and there is much truth in 
the saying, especially if we have first committed ourselves in prayer to God, and 
taken a prayerful spirit with us to our bed. In the quiet of its silent hours, undis 
turbed by the passions, and unharassed by the conflicts of the world, we can com 
mune with our own heart, and be instructed and guarded as to our future course 
even " in the night season." David especially seems to have made these seasons 
sources of great profit as well as delight. Sometimes he loved to meditate upon God 
as he lay upon his bed ; and it was no doubt as he meditated on the Lord s goodness 
and on the way by which he had led him, that he was, as it were, constrained, even 
at midnight, to arise and pray. While, therefore, we acknowledge the pillow to 
be a good counsellor, let us with David here acknowledge also that it is the Lord 
who gives the counsel, and sends the instruction in the night season. Barton Bouchier. 

Verse 3. " / have set the Lord always before me." David did not by fits and 
starts set the Lord before him ; but he " always " set the Lord before him in his 
course ; he had his eye upon the Lord, and so much the Hebrew word imports : I 
have equally set the Lord before me ; that is the force of the original word, that is, 
I have set the Lord before me, at one time as well as another, without any irregular 
affections or passions, etc. In every place, in every condition, in every company, 
in every employment, and in every enjoyment, I have set the Lord equally before 
me ; and this raised him, and this will raise any Christian, by degrees, to a very 
great height of holiness. Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 8. "/ have set the Lord always before me." Hebrew, I have equally set, 
or proposed. The apostle translate th it, "I foresaw the Lord always before my 
face." Acts ii. 25. I set the eye of my faith full upon him, and suffer it not to 
take to other things ; I look him in the face, oculo irretorto, as the eagle looketh 
upon the sun ; and oculo adamantine, with an eye of adamant, which turns only 
to one point : so here / have equally set the Lord before me, without irregular affections 
and passions. And this was one of those lessons that his reins had taught him, that 
the Holy Spirit had dictated unto him. John Trapp. 

Verse 8. " / have set the Lord ALWAYS before me." Like as the gnomon doth 
ever behold the north star, whether it be closed and shut up in a coffer of gold, 
silver, or wood, never losing its nature ; so a faithful Christian man, whether he 
abound in wealth or be pinched with poverty, whether he be of high or low degree in 
this world, ought continually to have his faith and hope surely built and grounded 
upon Christ, and to have his heart and mind fast fixed and settled in him, and to 
follow him through thick and thin, through fire and water, through wars and peace, 
through hunger and cold, through friends and foes, through a thousand perils and 
dangers, through the surges and waves of envy, malice, hatred, evil speeches, railing 
sentences, contempt of the world, flesh, and devil, and even in death itself, be it 
never so bitter, cruel, and tyrannical, yet never to lose sight and view of Christ, 
never to give over faith, hope, and trust in him. Robert Cawdray. 

Verse 8. "/ have set the Lord always before me." By often thinking of God, 
the heart will be enticed into desires after him. Isaiah xxvi. 8. " The desire 
of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee ; " and see what follows, 
verse 9 : " With my soul have I desired thee in the night ; yea, with my spirit 
within me will I seek thee early." Love sets the soul on musing, and from musing 
to praying. Meditation is prayer in bullion, prayer in the ore soon melted and 
run into holy desires. The laden cloud soon drops into rain ; the piece charged 
soon goes off when fire is put to it. A meditating soul is in proxima potentia to 
prayer. William Gurnall, 

Verse 8. " I have set the Lord always before me," etc. He that by faith eyes 
God continually as his protector in trouble " shall not be moved " with any evil that 
he suffers, and he that eyes God by faith as his pattern in holiness, shall not be moved 
from doing that which is good. This thought the Lord is at our right hand keeps 
us from turning either to the right hand or to the left. It is said of Enoch, that 
" he walked with God " (Genesis v. 22), and though the history of his life be very 
short, yet tis said of him a second time (verse 24), that " he walked with God." 


He walked so much with God that he walked as God : he did not " walk " (which 
kind of walking the apostle reproves, 1 Cor. iii. 3), " as men." He walked so little 
like the world that his stay was little in the world. " He was not," saith the text, 
" for God took him." He took him from the world to himself, or, as the author 
to the Hebrews reports it, " he was translated that he should not see death, for he 
had this testimony, that he pleased God." Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 8. " Because he is at my right hand," etc. Of ourselves we stand not at 
any time, by his power we may overcome at all times. And when we are sorest 
asaulted he is ever ready at our right hand to support and stay us that we shall not 
fall. He hath well begun, and shall happily go forward in his work, who hath in 
truth begun. For true grace well planted in the heart, how weak, soever, shall 
hold out for ever. All total decays come from this that the heart was never truly 
mollified, nor grace deeply and kindly rooted therein. John Ball. 

Verse 8. " He is at my right hand." This phrase of speech is borrowed from 
those who, when they take upon them the patronage, defence, or tuition of any, 
will set them on their right hand, as in place of most safeguard. Experience con- 
flrmeth this in children, who in any imminent danger shroud and shelter themselves 
under their father s arms or hands, as under a sufficient buckler. Such was the 
estate of the man of God, as here appeareth, who was hemmed and edged in with the 
power of God, both against present evils, and dangers to come. Richard Greenham 

Verse 8. Even as a column or pillar is sometimes on thy right hand, and some 
times on thy left hand, because thou dost change thy standing, sitting, or walking, 
for it is unmovable and keepeth one place ; so God is sometimes favourable and 
bountiful unto thee, and sometimes seemeth to be wroth and angry with thee, 
because thou dost fall from virtue to vice, from obedience and humility to pride 
and presumption ; for in the Lord there is no change, no, not so much as any shadow 
of change. He is immutable, always one and everlasting. If thou wilt bend thyself 
to obedience, and to a virtuous and godly life, thou shalt ever have him a strong 
rock, whereupon thou mayst boldly build a castle and tower of defence. He will 
be unto thee a mighty pillar, bearing up heaven and earth, whereto thou mayst 
lean and not be deceived, wherein thou mayst trust and not be disappointed. He 
will ever be at thy right hand, that thou shalt not fall. He will take thy part, and 
will mightily defend thee against all enemies of thy body and of thy soul ; but if thou 
wilt shake hands with virtue, and bid it adieu, and farewell, and, forsaking the 
ways of God, wilt live as thou list, and follow thy own corruption, and make no 
conscience of aught thou doest, defiling and blemishing thyself with all manner of 
sin and iniquity, then be sure the Lord will appear unto thee in his fury and 
indignation. From his justice and judgments none shall ever be able to deliver 
thee. Robert Cawdray. 

Verse 9. " My heart is glad." Men may for a time be hearers of the gospel, 
men may for order s sake pray, sing, receive the sacraments ; but if it be without 
joy, will not that hyprocrisy in time break out ? "Will they not begin to be weary ? 
Nay will they not be as ready to hear any other doctrine ? Good things cannot 
long find entertainment in our corruptions, unless the Holy Ghost hath changed us 
from our old delights to conceive pleasure in these things. Richard Greenham. 

Verse 9. " My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth." His inward joy was not 
able to contain itself. \Ye testify our pleasure on lower occasions, even at the grati 
fication of our senses ; when our ear is filled with harmonious melody, when our 
eye is fixed upon admirable and beauteous objects, when our smell is recreated with 
agreeable odours, and our taste also by the delicacy and rareness of provisions ; and 
much more will our soul show its delight, when its faculties, that are of a more 
exquisite constitution, meet with things that are in all respects agreeable and pleasant 
to them ; and in God they meet with all those : with his light our understanding is 
refreshed, and so is our will with his goodness and his love. Timothy Rogers. 

Verse 9. " Therefore my heart is glad," etc. That is, I am all over in very good 
plight, as well as heart can wish, or require ; I do over-abound exceedingly with 
joy ; " God forgive me mine unthankfulness and unworthiness of so great glory " 
(as that martyr said) : " In all the days of my life I was never so merry as now I 
am in this dark dungeon," etc. Wicked men rejoice in appearance, and not in 
heart (2 Cor. v. 12) ; their joy is but skin deep, their mirth frothy and flashy, 
such as wetteth the mouth, but warmeth not the heart. But David is totus 
totus, quantus quantus exultabundus ; his heart, glory, flesh, (answerable, as tome 


think to that of the apostle, 1 Thess. v. 23 ; spirit, soul, and body) were all 
overjoyed. John Trapp. 

Verse 9. " My flesh shall rest in hope." If a Jew pawned his bed-clothes, God 
provided mercifully that it should be restored before night : " For," saith he, " that 
is his covering : wherein shall he sleep ? " Exodus xxii. 27. Truly, hope is the 
saint s covering, wherein he wraps himself, when he lays his body down to 
sleep in the grave : " My flesh," saith David, " shall rest in hope." O Christian, 
bestir thyself to redeem thy hope before this sun of thy temporal life goes down 
upon thee, or else thou art sure to lie down in sorrow. A sad going to the bed of 
the grave he hath who hath no hope of a resurrection to life. William Gurnall. 

Verse 9. " My flesh shall rest in hope." That hope which is grounded on the 
word, gives rest to the soul ; tis an anchor to keep it steady. Heb. vi. 13. Which 
shows the unmovableness of that which our anchor is fastened to. The promise 
sustains our faith, and our faith is that which supports us. He that hopes in the 
Word as David did (Psalm cxix. 81), lays a mighty stress upon it ; as Samson did 
when he leaned upon the pillars of the house, so as to pull it down upon the Philistines. 
A believer throws the whole weight of all his affairs and concernments, temporal, 
spiritual, and eternal, upon the promises of God, like a man resolved to stand or fall 
with them. He ventures himself, and all that belongs to him, entirely upon this 
bottom, which is in effect to say, if they will not bear me up, I am content to sink ; I 
know that there shall be a performance of those things which have been told me from 
the Lord, and therefore I will incessantly look for it. Timothy Cruso. 

Verse 10. " For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," etc. The title of this golden 
text may be The embalming of the dead saints : the force whereof is to free the 
souls from dereliction in the state of death, and to secure the bodies of God s saints 
from corruption in the grave. It is the art which I desire to learn, and at this time, 
teach upon this sad occasion,* even the preparing of this confection against our 
burials. George Hughes, 1642. 

Verse 10. Many of the elder Reformers held that our Lord in soul actually 
descended into hell, according to some of them to suffer there as our surety, and 
according to others to make a public triumph over death and hell. This idea was 
almost universally, and, as we believe, most properly repudiated by the Puritans. 
To prove this fact, it may be well to quote from Corbet s witty itinerary of, 

" Foure clerkes of Oxford, doctors two, and two 
That would be docters." 

He laments the secularisation of church appurtenances at Banbury, by the Puritans 
whom he describes as, 

" They which tell 

That Christ hath nere descended into hell, 
But to the grave." 
C. H. S. The quotation is from Richard Corbet s Poems, 1632. 

Verse 10. " My soul in hell." Christ in soul descended into hell, when as our 
surety he submitted himself to bear those hellish sorrows (or equivalent to them), 
which we were bound by our sins to suffer for ever. His descension is his projection 
of himself into the sea of God s wrath conceived for our sins, and his ingression 
into most unspeakable straits and torments in his soul, which we should else have 
suffered for ever in hell. This way of Christ s descending into hell is expressly uttered 
in the person of David, as the type of Christ. Psalm Ixxxvi. 13; cxvi. 3; Ixix. 1-3. 
Thus the prophet Isaiah saith, " His soul was made an offering." Isaiah liii. 10. 
And this I take it David means, when he said of Christ, " Thou wilt not leave my soul 
in hell." Psalm xvi ; Acts ii. And thus Christ descended into hell when he was alive, 
not when he was dead. Thus his soul was in hell when in the garden he did sweat 
blood, and on the cross when he cried so lamentably, " My God, my God, why hast 
thou forsaken me ? " Matt. xxvi. 38. Nicholas Byfield s "Exposition of the Creed," 

Verse 10. " In hell." Sheol here, as hades in the New Testament, signifies the 
state of the dead, the separate state of souls after death, the invisible world of souls, 
where Christ s soul was, though it did not remain there, but on the third day returned 

* A Funeral Sermon. 


to its body again. It seems best of all to interpret this word of the grave as it is 
rendered ; Gen. xlii. 38 ; Isaiah xxxviii. 18. John Gill. 

Verse 10. " Thine Holy One." Holiness preserves the soul from dereliction, 
in the state of death, and the body of the saint from corruption in the grave. If 
it be desired by any that doubt of it, to see the clear issue of this from the text, I shall 
guide them to read this text with a great accent upon that term, " Thine Holy One," 
that they may take special notice of it, even the quality of that man exempted from 
these evils. In this the Spirit of God puts an emphasis upon holiness, as counter 
working and prevailing over death and the grave. It is this and nothing but this, 
that thus keeps the man, dead and buried, from desertion in death, and corruption 
in the grave. George Hughes. 

Verse 10. The great promise to Christ is, that though he took a corruptible body 
upon him, yet he should " not see corruption," that is, partake of corruption, corruption 
should have no communion with, much less power over him. Joseph Caryl. 

Verse 10. Quoted by the apostle Peter (Acts ii. 27) ; on which Hackett (Com. 
in loc.) observes : " The sense then may be expressed thus : Thou wilt not give me 
up as a prey to death ; he shall not have power over me, to dissolve the body and 
cause it to return to dust." 

Verse 11. In this verse are four things observable : 1. A Guide, THOU. 2. A 
Traveller, ME. 3. A Way, THE PATH. 4. The End, LIFE, described after. For that 
which follows is but the description of this life. 

This verse is a proper subject for a meditation. For, all three are solitary. The 
guide is but one ; the traveller, one ; the way, one ; and the life, the only one. To 
meditate well on this is to bring all together ; and at last make them all but one. 
Which that we may do, let us first seek our Guide. 

The Guide. Him we find named in the first verse Jehovah. Here we may 
begin, as we ought in all holy exercises, with adoration. For, " unto him all knees 
shall bow ; " nay, unto his name. For holy is his name. Glory be to thee, O God 1 
He is Deus, therefore holy ; he is Deus fortis, therefore able. " For the strength 
of the hills is his ; " and if there be a way on earth, he can " show " it ; for in his 
hands are all the corners of the earth. But is he willing to " show " ? Yes, though 
he be Deus, holy (which is a word terrible to poor flesh and blood), yet he is Deus 
meus, my holiness. That takes away servile fear. He is meus, we have a property 
in him ; and he is willing : " Thou wilt show," etc. And that you may know he 
will guide, David shows a little above how diligently he will guide. First, he will 
go before, he will lead the way himself : if I can but follow, I shall be sure to go 
right. And he that hath a guide before him, and will not follow, is worthy to be 
left behind. But say, I am willing, I do desire to go, and I do follow : what if, 
through faintness in the long way, I fall often ? or, for want of care step out of the 
way, shall I not then be left behind ? Fear not ; for " He is at my right hand, so 
that I shall not slip." Verse 8. This is some comfort indeed. But we are so soon 
weary in this way, and do fall and err so often, that it would weary the patience of a 
good guide to lead us but one day. Will he bear with us, and continue to the end ? 
Yes, always ; or this text deceives us ; for all this is found in the eighth verse. We 
must have him or none ; for he is one, and the only one. So confessed Asaph : 
" Whom have I on earth but thee ? " Seek this good Guide, he is easy to be 
found : " Seek, and ye shall find." You shall find that he is first holy ; 
secondly, able ; thirdly, willing ; fourthly, diligent ; and fifthly, constant. O my 
soul I to follow him, and he will make thee both able to follow to the end ; and 
holy in the end. 

The traveller. Having found the Guide, we shall not long seek for one that wants 
him ; for, see, here is a man out of his way. And that will soon appear if we consider 
his condition. For, he is a stranger (" Thou wilt show me ") ; and what am I ? "I 
am a stranger, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were," says he, in another place. 
But this was in the old time under the law ; what, are we, their sons, in the gospel, 
any other ? Peter tells us no : that we are strangers and pilgrims too ; that is, 
travellers. We travel, as being out of our country ; and we are strangers to those 
we converse with. For neither the natives be our friends, nor anything we possess 
truly our own. It is time we had animum revertendi ; and surely so we have if 
we could but pray on the way. Converte nos Domine. But it is so long since we 
came hither, we have forgot the way home : obliti sunt montis met. Yet still we are 
travelling ; and, we think, homewards. For all hope well : oculi omnium sptrant 


in te. But right, like pilgrims, or rather, wanderers. For we scarce know if we go 
right ; and, which is worse, have little care to enquire. 

" Me." David still keeps the singular number. As there is but one guide, so 
he speaks in the person but of one traveller. There is somewhat, peradventure, 
in that. It is to show his confidence. The Lord s prayer is in the plural, but the 
creed in the singular. We may pray that God would guide all ; but we can be con 
fident for none but ourselves. " Thou wilt show," or thou dost, or hast, as some 
translate : all is but to show particular confidence. " Thou wilt show me ; " me, 
not us, a number indefinite wherein I may be one ; but me in particular that am 
out of the way ; that am myself alone ; that must walk in " the path " alone. Either 
I must follow, or go before others ; I must work for myself alone ; believe for myself 
alone ; and be saved by one alone. The way in this text that I must walk is but one ; 
nay, it is but a " path " where but one can go : this is no highway, but a way of 
sufferance by favour : it is none of ours. It is no road ; you cannot hurry here, 
or gallop by troops : it is but semita, a small footpath for one to go alone in. Nay, 
as it is a way for one alone, so it is a lonely way : preparate vias ejus in solitudine, 
saith John, and he knew which way God went, who is our Guide in solitudine : there 
is the sweetness of solitariness, the comforts of meditation. For God is never more 
familiar with man than when man is in solitudine, alone, in bis path by himself. 
Christ himself came thus, all lonely ; without troop, or noise, and ever avoided 
the tumultuous multitude, though they would have made him a king. And he 
never spake to them but in parables ; but to his that sought him, m solitudine, 
in private, he spake plain ; and so doth he still love to do to the soul, in private 
and particular. Therefore well said David, " Thou wilt show me," in particular, 
and in the singular number. But how shall I know that I, in particular, shall be 
taught and showed this way ? This prophet, that had experience, will tell us : mites 
docebit, the humble he will teach. Psalm xxv. 9. If thou canst humble thyself, 
thou mayst be sure to see thy guide ; Christ hath crowned this virtue with a blessing : 
" Blessed are the meek ; " for them he will call to him and teach. But thou must be 
humble then. For heaven is built like our churches, high-roofed within, but with 
a strait low gate ; they then that enter there must stoop, ere they can see God. 
Humility is the mark at every cross, whereby thou shalt know if thou be in the 
way : if any be otherwise minded, God also shall reveal it unto you, for, " Thou 
wilt show." 

" The path." But let us now see what he will show us : " the path." We must 
know, that as men have many paths out of their highway the world but they 
all end in destruction ; so God hath many paths out of his highway, the word, but 
they all end in salvation. Let us oppose ours to his (as indeed they are opposite), 
and see how they agree. Ours are not worth marking, his marked with an attendite, 
to begin withal ; ours bloody, his unpolluted ; ours crooked, his straight ; ours lead 
to hell, his to heaven. Have not we strayed then ? We had need to turn and 
take another path, and that quickly : we may well say, semitas nostras, a via tu*t. 
Well, here is the Book, and here are the ways before you ; and he will show you. Here 
is semita mandalorum, in the one hundred-and-nineteenth Psalm, verse thirty-five ; 
here is semita pacifica (Prov iii. 17); here is semita sequitatis (Piov. iv. 11); here h> 
semita justifies (Psalm xxiii. 3) ; here is semita fudicii (Prov. xvii. 23) ; and many 
others. These are, every one of them. God s ways ; but these are somewhat too many 
and too far off : we must seek the way where all these meet, and that will bring us 
into " the path : " these are many, but I will show you yet " a more excellent way," 
saith Paul. 1 Cor. xii. 31. 

We must begin to enter at via mandatorum ; for till then we are in the dark and 
can distinguish no ways, whether they be good or bad. But there we shall meet 
with a lantern and a light in it. Thy commandment is a lantern, and the law a light. 
Prov. vi. 23. Carry this with thee (as a good man should, lex Dei in corde ejus) ; 
and it will bring thee into the way. And see how careful our Guide is ; for lest the 
wind should blow out this light, he hath put it into a lantern to preserve it. For 
the fear, or sanction, of the " commandments," preserves the memory of the law in 
our hearts, as a lantern doth a light burning within it. The law is the light, and 
the commandment the lantern. So that neither flattering Zephyrus, nor blustering 
Boreas shall be able to blow it out, so long as the fear of the sanction keeps it in. 
This is lucerna pedibus (Psalm cxix. 105) ; and will not only show thee where thou 
shalt tread, but what pace thou shalt keep. When thou hast this light, take Jeremy s 
counsel ; enquire for semita antiqua, befor* thou goest any further. " Stand (saith 


he) in the ways and behold and ask for the old way ; which is the good way, and 
walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." This will bring you some 
whither where you may rest awhile. And whither is that ? Trace this path, and 
you shall find this " old way " to run quite through all the Old Testament till it 
end in the New, the gospel of peace, and there is rest. And that this is so Paul 
affirms. For the law, which is the " old way," is but the pedagogue to the gospel. 
This then is " a more excellent way " than the law, the ceremonies whereof in respect 
of this were called " beggarly rudiments." When we come there, we shall find the 
way pleasant and very light, so that we shall plainly see before us that very path, 
that only path, " the path of life " (semita vitas), in which the gospel ends, as the 
law ends in the gospel. Now what is semita vitse that we seek for ? "All the ways of 
God are truth," saith David. Psalm cxix. 151. He doth not say they are verse, 
or veritates, but veritas ; all one truth. So, all the ways of God end in one truth. 
Semita vitas, then, is truth. And so sure a way to life is truth, that John says, he had 
" no greater joy " than to hear that his sons " walked in truth." 3 John i. 3. " No 
greater joy : " for it brings them certainly to a joy, than which there is none greater. 
Via veritatis is " the gospel of truth." but semita vitse is the truth itself. Of these, 
Esay prophesied, et erit ibi semita et via, etc. " There shall be a path, and a way ; " 
and the way shall be called holy, the proper epithet of the gospel : " the holy gospel," 
that is the way. But the path is the epitome of this way (called in our text, by way 
of excellence, " the path," in the singular) ; than which ther is no other. " The gospel 
of your salvation," saith Paul, is " the word of truth ; " and " thy word is truth," 
saith our Saviour to his Father. Truth, then, is " the path of life," for it is the epitome 
of the gospel, which is the way. This is that truth which Pilate (unhappy man) 
asked after, but never stayed to be resolved of. He himself is the word ; the word 
is the truth ; and the truth is " the path of life," trodden by all the patriarchs, 
prophets, apostles, martyrs and confessors, that ever went to heaven before us. The 
abstract of the gospel, the gate of heaven, semita vitas, " the path of life," even Jesus 
Christ the righteous, who hath beaten the way for us, gone himself before us, and 
left us the prints of his footsteps for us to follow, where he himself sits ready to 
receive us. So, the law is the light, the gospel is the way, and Christ is " the path 
of life." William Austin, 1637. 

Verse 11. It is Christ s triumphing in the consideration of his exaltation, and 
taking pleasure in the fruits of his sufferings : " Thou wilt show me the paths of life." 
God hath now opened the way to paradise, which was stopped up by a flaming sword, 
and made the path plain by admitting into heaven the head of the believing world. 
This is part of the joy of the soul of Christ ; he hath now a fulness of joy, a satis 
fying delight instead of an overwhelming sorrow; a "fulness of joy," not only some 
sparks and drops as he had now and then in his debased condition ; and that in 
the presence of his Father. His soul is fed and nourished with a perpetual vision 
of God, in whose face he beholds no more frowns, no more designs of treating him 
as a servant, but such smiles that shall give a perpetual succession of joy to him, 
and fill his soul with fresh and pure flames. Pleasures they are, pleasantness in 
comparison whereof the greatest joys in this life are anguish and horrors. His 
soul hath joys without mixture, pleasures without number, a fulness without want, 
a constancy without interruption, and a perpetuity without end. Stephen Charnock. 

Verse 11. " In thy presence," etc. To the blessed soul resting in Abraham s 
bosom, there shall be given an immortal, impassible, resplendent, perfect, and glorious 
body. Oh, what a happy meeting will this be, what a sweet greeting between the 
soul and body, the nearest and dearest acquaintance that ever were I What a 
welcome will that soul give to her beloved body ! Blessed be thou (will she say), 
for thou hast aided me to the glory I have enjoyed since I parted with thee ; blessed 
art thou that sufferedst thyself to be mortified, giving " thy members as weapons 
of righteousness unto God." Rom. vi. 13. Cheer up thyself, for now the time of 
labour is past, and the time of rest is come. Thou wast sown and buried in the dust 
of earth with ignominy, but now raised in glory ; sown in weakness, but raised in 
power ; sown a natural body, but raised a spiritual body ; sown in corruption, 
but raised in incorruption. 1 Cor. xv. 43. O my dear companion and familiar, 
we took sweet counsel together, we two have walked together as friends in God s 
house (Psalm Iv. 14), for when I prayed inwardly, thou didst attend my devotions 
with bowed knees and lifted-up hands outwardly. We two have been fellow labourers 
in the works of the Lord, we two have suffered together, and now we two shall ever 
reign together ; I will enter again into thee, and so both of us together will 



enter into our Master s joy, where we shall have pleasures at his right hand for 

The saints, entered as it were into the chamber of God s presence, shall have joy 
to their ears in hearing their own commendating and praise, " Well done, good and 
faithful servant " (Matt. xxv. 21) ; and in hearing the divine language of heavenly 
Canaan ; for our bodies shall be vera et viva, perfect like Christ s glorious body, 
who did both hear other and speak himself after his resurrection, as it is apparent in 
the gospels history. Now, then, if the words of the wise spoken in due places be 
like " apples of gold with pictures of silver " (Prov. xxv. 11), if the mellifluous speech 
of Origen, the silver trumpet of Hillary, the golden mouth of Chrysostom, bewitched 
as it were their auditory with exceeding great delight ; if the gracious eloquence 
of heathen orators, whose tongues were never touched with a coal from God s altar, 
could steal away the hearts of their hearers, and carry them up and down whither 
they would, what a " fulness of joy " will it be to hear not only the sanctified, but 

also the glorified tongues of saints and angels in the kingdom of glory ? 

Bonaventure fondly reports at all adventure, that St. Francis hearing an angel a 
little while playing on a harp, was so moved with extraordinary delight, that he 
thought himself in another world. Oh ! what a " fulness of joy " will it be to hear 
more than twelve legions of angels, accompanied with a number of happy saints 
which no man is able to number, all at once sing together, " Hallelujah, holy, holy, 
holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." "And every creature 
which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, 
and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, 
be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." 
Rev. iv. 8 ; v. 13. If the voices of mortal men, and the sound of cornet, trumpet, 
harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and other well-tuned instruments of music, 
passing through our dull ears in this world be so powerful, that all our affections 
are diversely transported according to the divers kinds of harmony, then how shall 
we be ravished in God s presence when we shall hear heavenly airs with heavenly 
ears 1 

Concerning " fulness of joy " to the rest of the senses I find a very little or 
nothing in holy Scriptures, and therefore seeing God s Spirit will not have a pen to 
write, I may not have a tongue to speak. Divines in general affirm, that the smelling, 
and taste, and feeling, shall have joy proportionable to their blessed estate, for 
this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality ; the body 
which is sown in weakness is to be raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, but 
it is raised a spiritual body, buried in dishonour, raised in glory ; that is, capable 
of good, and, as being impassible, no way subject to suffer evil, insomuch that it 
cannot be hurt if it should be cast into hell fire, no more than Shadrach, Meshech, 
and Abednego, were hurt in the burning oven. In one word, God is not only to the 
souls, but also to the bodies of the saints, all in all things; a glass to their sight, 
honey to their taste, music to their hearing, balm to their smelling. John Boys. 

Verse 11. " In thy presence is fulness of foy." The saints on earth are all but 
viatores, wayfaring men, wandering pilgrims far from home ; but the saints in 
heaven are comprehensores, safely arrived at the end of their journey. All we 
here present for the present, are but mere strangers in the midst of danger, we are 
losing ourselves and losing our lives in the land of the dying. But ere long, we 
may find our lives and ourselves again in heaven with the Lord of life, being found 
of him in the land of the living. If when we die, we be in the Lord of life, our souls 
are sure to be bound up in the bundle of life, that so when we live again we may 
be sure to find them in the life of the Lord. Now we have but a dram, but a scruple, 
but a grain of happiness, to an ounce, to a pound, to a thousand weight of heaviness ; 
now we have but a drop of joy to an ocean of sorrow ; but a moment of ease to an age 
of pain ; but then (as St. Austin very sweetly in his Soliloquies), we shall have endless 
ease without any pain, true happiness without any heaviness, the greatest measure 
of felicity without the least of misery, the fullest measure of joy that may be, without 
any mixture of grief. Here therefore (as St. Gregory the divine adviseth us), let us 
ease our heaviest loads of sufferings, and sweeten our bitterest cups of sorrows with the 
continual meditation and constant expectation of the fulness of joy in the presence 
of God, and of the pleasure at his right hand for evermore. 

" In thy presence, is," etc., there it is, not there it was, nor there It may be, nor 
there it will be, but there it is, there it ts without cessation or intercision, there it 
always hnth been> and is, and must be. It is an assertion stternx veritatis, that is 


always true, It may at any time be said that there it is. " In thy presence is the ful 
ness of Joy ; " and herein consists the consummation of felicity ; for what does any 
man here present wish for more than joy ? And what measure of joy can any 
man wish for more than fulness of joy ? And what kind of fulness would any man 
wish for rather than this fulness, the fulness KO.T <?<>xV ? And where would any 
man wish to enjoy this fulness of joy rather than in the presence of God, which is 
the ever- flowing and the over-flowing fountain of joy? And when would any man 
wish for this enjoyment of the fulness of joy in the very fountain of joy rather than 
presently, constantly, and incessantly ? Now all these desirables are encircled with 
in the compass of the first remarkable, to make up the consummation of true felicity. 
" In thy presence is fulness of joy." " The Consummation of Felicity," by Edward 
Willan, 1645. 

Verse 11. The human nature of Christ in heaven hath a double capacity of 
glory, happiness and delight ; one on that mere fellowship and communion with 
his Father and the other persons, through his personal union with the Godhead. 
Which joy of his in this fellowship, Christ himself speaks of as to be enjoyed by 
him : " In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for ever 
more." And this is a constant and settled fulness of pleasure, such as admits not 
any addition or diminution, but is always one and the same, and absolute and entire 
in itself ; and of itself alone sufficient for the Son of God, and heir of all things to 
live upon, though he should have had no other comings in of joy and delight from 
any creature. And this is his natural inheritance. Thomas Goodwin. 

Verse 11. " In thy presence is FULNESS of joy." In heaven they are free from 
want ; they can want nothing there unless it be want itself. They may find the 
want of evil, but never find the evil of want. Evil is but the want of good, and 
the want of evil is but the absence of want. God is good, and no want of good can 
be in God. What want then can be endured in the presence of God, where no evil is, 
but all good that the fulness of joy may be enjoyed ? Here some men eat their 
meat without any hunger, whilst others hunger without any meat to eat, and some 
men drink extremely without any thirst, whilst others thirst extremely without 
any drink. But in the glorious presence of God, not any one can be pampered 
with too much, nor any one be pined with too little. They that gather much of 
the heavenly manna, " have nothing over ; " and " they that gather little have no 
lack. They that are once possessed of that presence of God, are so possessed with 
it that they can never feel the misery of thirst or hunger. Edward Willan. 

Verse 11. " Fulness." Every soul shall there enjoy an infinite happiness, 
because it shall enjoy infinite goodness. And it shall be for ever enjoyed, without 
disliking of it, or losing of it, or lacking any of it. Every soul shall enjoy as much 
good in that presence, by the presence of that good, as it shall be able to receive, 
or to desire to receive. As much as shall make it fully happy. Every one shall be 
filled so proportionately full ; and every desire in any soul shall be fulfilled so per 
fectly in that presence of glory, with the glory of that presence, that no one shall 
ever wish for any more, or ever be weary of that it has, or be willing to change it 
for any other. Edward Willan. 

Verse 11. " Fulness of joy." When a man comes to the sea, he doth not com- 

8 lain that he wants his cistern of water : though thou didst suck comfort from 
ly relations ; yet when thou comest to the ocean, and art with Christ, thou shalt 
never complain that thou hast left thy cistern behind. There will be nothing to 
breed sorrow in heaven ; there shall be joy, and nothing but joy, heaven is set out by 
that phrase, " Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Here joy enters into- us, 
there we enter into joy ; the joys we have here are from heaven ; the joys that we 
shall have with Christ are without measure and without mixture. " In thy presence 
is fulness of joy." Thomas Watson. 

Verse 11. " In thy presence is fulness of joy." In this life our joy is mixed 
with sorrow like a prick under the rose. Jacob had joy when his sons returned 
home from Egypt with the sacks full of corn, but much sorrow when he perceived 
the silver in the sack s mouth. David had much joy in bringing up the ark of God, 
but at the same time great sorrow for the breach made upon Uzza. This is the 
Lord s great wisdom to temper and moderate our joy. As men of a weak con 
stitution must have their wine qualified with water for fear of distemper, so must 
we in this life (such is our weakness), have our joy mixed with sorrow, lest we turn 
giddy and insolent. Here our joy is mixed with fear (Psalm ii.), " Rejoice with 
trembling ; " the women departed from the sepulchre of our Lord " with fear and 


great joy." Matthew xxviii. 8. In our regenerate estate, though we have joy from 
Christ that is " formed in us," yet the impression of the terrors of God before the 
time of our new birth remains in us ; as in a commotion of the sea by a great tempest 
after a stormy wind hath ceased, yet the impression of the storm remains and makes 
an agitation. The tender mother recovering her young child from danger of a fall 
hath joy from the recovery; but with much fear with the impression of the danger : 
so after we are recovered here from our dangerous falls by the rich and tender mercies 
of our God, sometime preventing us, sometime restoring us, though we rejoice in 
his mercy, and in our own recovery out of the snares of Satan, yet in the midst of 
our joy the remembrance of former guiltiness and danger do humble our hearts 
with much sorrow, and some trepidation of heart. As our joy here is mixed with 
fears, so with sorrow also. Sound believers do look up to Christ crucified, and do 
rejoice in his incomparable love, that such a person should have died such a death 
for such as were enemies to God by sinful inclinations and wicked works ; they 
look down also upon their own sins that have wounded and crucified the Lord of 
glory, and this breaketh the heart, as a widow should mourn, who by her froward 
and lewd behaviour hath burst the heart of a kind and loving husband. 

The sound believers look to their small beginnings of grace, and they rejoice 
in the work of God s hands ; but when they compare it with that original and primi 
tive righteousness, they mourn bitterly, as the elders of Israel did at the rebuilding of 
the temple (Ezra iii. 12) ; " They who had seen the first house wept." But in 
heaven our joy will be full, without mixture of sorrow (John xvi. 20) ; " Your 
sorrow," saith our Lord, " shall be turned into joy." Then will there be no sorrow 
for a present trouble, nor present fear of future troubles. Then their eye will deeply 
affect their heart : the sight and knowledge of God the supreme and infinite good 
will ravish, and take up all their heart with joy and delight. Peter in the Mount 
(Matthew xvii.), was so affected with that glorious sight, that he forgot both the 
delights and troubles that were below ; " It is good to be here," said he. How 
much more will all worldly troubles and delights be forgot at that soul-satisfying 
sight in heaven, which is as far above that of Peter in the Mount, as the third heaven 
is above that Mount, and as the uncreated is above the created glory I William 
ColvilVs "Refreshing Streams," 1655. 

Verse 11. " In thy presence is fulness of joy ; at thy right hand there are pleasures 
for evermore." Mark, for quality, there are pleasures ; for quantity, fulness ; for 
dignity, at God s right hand ; for eternity, for evermore. And millions of years 
multiplied by millions, make not up one minute to this eternity of joy that the 
saints shall have in heaven. In heaven there shall be no sin to take away your 
joy, nor no devil to take away your joy ; nor no man to take away your joy. " Your 
joy no man taketh from you." John xvi. 22. The joy of the saints in heaven is 
never ebbing, but always flowing to all contentment. The joys of heaven never 
fade, never wither, never die, nor never are lessened nor interrupted. The joy of 
the saints in heaven is a constant joy, an everlasting joy, in the root and in the cause, 
and in the matter of it and in the objects of it. " Their joy lasts for ever whose 
objects remain for ever " Thomas Brooks. 

Verse 11. " Pleasures for evermore." The soul that is once landed at the 
heavenly shore is past all storms. The glorified soul shall be for ever bathing itself 
in the rivers of pleasure. This is that which makes heaven to be heaven, " We shall 
be ever with the Lord." 1 Thess. iv. 17. Austin saith, " Lord, I am content to 
suffer any pains and torments in this world, if I might see thy face one day ; but 
alas ! were it only a day, then to be ejected heaven, it would rather be an aggravation 
of misery ; " but this word, " ever with the Lord," is very accumulative, and makes 
up the garland of glory : a state of eternity is a state of security. Thomas Watson. 
Verse 11. This then may serve for a ground of comfort to every soul distressed 
with the tedious bitterness of this life ; for short sorrow here, we shall have eternal 
joy ; for a little hunger, an eternal banquet ; for light sickness and affliction, ever 
lasting health and salvation ; for a little imprisonment, endless liberty ; for disgrace, 
glory. Instead of the wicked who oppress and afflict them, they shall have the 
angels and saints to comfort and solace them, instead of Satan to torment and 
tempt them, they shall have Jesus to ravish and affect them. Joseph s prison 
shall be turned into a palace ; Daniel s lions den into the presence of the Lion of 
the Tribe of Judah ; the three children s hot fiery furnace, into the New Jerusalem 
of pure gold ; David s Gath, into the tabernacle of the living God. John Cragge s 
" Cabinet of Spirituall Jewells," 1657. 


Verse 11. This heavenly feast will not have an end, as Ahasuerus s feast had, 
though it lasted many days ; but " At thy right hand are pleasures for evermore." 
William Colvill. 


Michtarn of David. Under the title of " The Golden Psalm," Mr. Canon Dale 
has published a small volume, which is valuable as a series of good simple discourses, 
but ought hardly to have been styled " an exposition." We have thought it right 
to give the headings of the chapters into which his volume is divided, for there is 
much showiness, and may be some solidity in the suggestions. 

Verse 1. The seeking of the gold. The believer conscious of danger, trusting 
in God only for deliverance,, 

Verses 2, 3. The possessing of the gold. The believer looking for justification 
to the righteousness of God alone, while maintaining personal holiness by com 
panionship with the saints. 

Verses 4, 5. The testing of the gold. The believer finding his present portion, 
and expecting his eternal inheritance in the Lord. 

Verse 6. The prizing or valuing of the gold. The believer congratulating him 
self on the pleasantness of his dwelling and the goodness of his heritage. 

Verses 7, 8. The occupying of the gold. The believer seeking instruction from 
the counsels of the Lord by night, and realising his promise by day. 

Verses 9, 10. The summing or reckoning of the gold. The believer rejoicing and 
praising God for the promise of a rest in hope and resurrection into glory. 

Verse 11. The perfecting of the gold. The believer realising at God s right hand 
the fulness of joy and the pleasures for evermore. 

Upon this suggestive Psalm we offer the following few hints out of many 

Verse 1. The prayer and the plea. The preserver and the truster. The dangers 
of the saints and the place of their confidence. 

Verse 2. " Thou art my Lord." The soul s appropriation, allegiance, assurance 
and avowal. 

Verses 2, 3. The influence and sphere of goodness. No profit to God, or 
departed saints or sinners, but to living men. Need of promptness, etc. 

Verses 2, 3. Evidence of true faith. I. Allegiance to divine authority. 
II. Rejection of self-righteousness. III. Doing good to the saints. IV. Apprecia 
tion of saintly excellence. V. delight in their society. 

Verse 3. Excellent of the earth. May be translated noble, wonderful, magnifi 
cent. They are so in their new birth, nature, clothing, attendance, heritage, etc., 

Verse 3. " In whom is all my delight." Why Christians should be objects of 
our delight. Why we do not delight in them more. Why they do not delight in 
us. How to make our fellowship more delightful. 

Verse 3. Collection sermon for poor believers. I. Saints. II. Saints on the 
earth. III. These are excellent. IV. We must delight in them. V. We must 
extend our goodness to them. Matthew Henry. 

Verse 4. Sorrows of idolatry illustrated in heathens and ourselves. 

Second clause. The duty of complete separation from sinners in life and lip. 

Verse 5. Future inheritance and present cup found in God. (See Exposition). 

Last clause. What our " lot " is. What danger it is in. Who defends it. 

Verse 6. " Pleasant places." Bethlehem, Calvary, Olivet, Tabor, Zion, Paradise, 
etc. II. Pleasant purposes, which made these lines fall to me. III. Pleasant 
praises. By service, sacrifice, and song. 

Verse 6 (second clause). I. A heritage. II. A goodly heritage. III. I have 
it. IV. Yea, or the Spirit s witness. 

Verse 6. " A goodly heritage." That which makes our portion good is I. The 
favour of God with it. II. That it is from a Father s hand. III. That it comes 
through the covenant of grace. IV. That it is the purchase of Christ s blood. 
V. That it is an answer to prayer, and a blessing from above upon honest endeavours. 


Verse 6. We may put this acknowledgment into the mouth of I. An indulged 
child of providence. II. An inhabitant of this favoured country. III. A Christian 
with regard to his spiritual condition. William Jay. 

Verse 7. Taking counsel s opinion. Of whom ? Upon what ? Why ? When ? 
How? What then? 

Verse 7. Upward and inward, or two schools of instruction. 

Verse 8. Set the Lord always before you as I. Your protector. II. Your 
leader. III. Your example. IV. Your observer. William Jay. 

Verses 8, 9. A sense of the divine presence our best support. It yields. 
I. Good confidence concerning things without. " / shall not be moved." II. Good 
cheer within. " My heart is glad." III. Good music for the living tongue. " My 
glory rejoiceth." IV. Good hope for the dying body. " My flesh also," etc. 

Verse 9 (last clause). I. The saint s Sabbath (rest). II. His sarcophagus (in 
hope). III. His salvation (for which he hopes). 

Verses 9, 10. Jesus cheered in prospect of death by the safety of his soul and 
body ; our consolation in him as to the same. 

Verse 10. Jesus dead, the place of his soul and his body. A difficult but in 
teresting topic. 

Verses 10, 11. Because he lives we shall live also. The believer, therefore, 
can also say, " Thou wilt show me the path of life." This life means the blessedness 
reserved in heaven for the people of God after the resurrection. It has three charac 
ters. The first regards its source it flows from " ft is presence." The second 
regards its plenitude it is " fulness" of joy. The third regards its permanency 
the pleasures are " for evermore." William Jay. 

Verse 11. A sweet picture of heaven. (See Exposition.) 


TITLE AND SUBJECT. A Prayer of David. David would not have been a man 
after God s own heart, if he had not been a man of prayer. He was a master in the 
sacred art of supplication. He flies to prayer in all limes of need, as a pilot speeds 
to the harbour in the stress of tempest. So frequent were David s prayers that they 
could not all be dated and entitled ; and hence this simply bears the author s name, and 
nothing more. The smell of the furnace is upon the present Psalm, but there is evidence 
in the last verse that he who wrote it came unharmed out of the flame. We have in 
the present plaintive song, AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN from the persecutions of earth. 
A spiritual eye may see Jesus here. 

DIVISIONS. There are no very clear lines of demarcation between the parts ; but 
we prefer the divisions adopted by that precious old commentator, David Dickson. 
In verses 1 4, David craves justice in the controversy between him and his oppressors. 
In verses 5 and 6, he requests of the Lord grace to act rightly while under the trial. From 
verse 1 12, he seeks protection from his foes, whom he graphically describes ; and in 
verses 13 and 14, pleads that they may be disappointed ; closing the whole in the most 
comfortable confidence that all would certainly be well with himself at the last. 


t_TEAR the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, 
* * that goeth not out of feigned lips. 

2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence ; let thine eyes behold 
the things that are equal. 

3 Thou hast proved mine heart ; thou hast visited me in the night ; thou 
hast tried me, and shalt find nothing ; I am purposed that my mouth shall 
not transgress. 

4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me 
from the paths of the destroyer. 

1. " Hear the right, Lord." He that has the worst cause makes the most 
noise ; hence the oppressed soul is apprehensive that its voice may be drowned, 
and therefore pleads in this one verse for a hearing no less than three times. The 
troubled heart craves for the ear of the great Judge, persuaded that with him to 
hear is to redress. If our God could not or would not hear us, our state would be 
deplorable indeed ; and yet some professors set such small store by the mercy-seat, 
that God does not hear them for the simple reason that they neglect to plead. As 
well have no house if we persist like gipsies in living in the lanes and commons ; 
as well have no mercy-seat as be always defending our own cause and never going 
to God. There is more fear that we will not hear the Lord than that the Lord 
will not hear us. " Hear the right ; " it is well if our case is good in itself and can 
be urged as a right one, for right shall never be wronged by our righteous Judge ; 
but if our suit be marred by our infirmities, it is a great privilege that we may make 
mention of the righteousness of our Lord Jesus, which is ever prevalent on high. 
Right has a voice which Jehovah always hears ; and if my wrongs clamour against 
me with great force and fury, I will pray the Lord to hear that still louder and mightier 
voice of the right, and the rights of his dear Son. " Hear, O God, the just One ; " 
i.e., " hear the Messiah," is a rendering adopted by Jerome, and admired by Bishop 
Horsley, whether correct or not as a translation, it is proper enough as a plea. Let 
the reader plead it at the throne of the righteous God, even when all other arguments 
are unavailing. 

"Attend unto my cry." This shows the vehemence and earnestness of the 
petitioner ; he is no mere talker, he weeps and laments. Who can resist a cry ? 
A real hearty, bitter, piteous cry, might almost melt a rock, there can be no fear 
of Its prevalence with our heavenly Father. A cry is our earliest utterance, and 
in many ways the most natural of human sounds ; if our prayer should like the 


infant s cry be more natural than intelligent, and more earnest than elegant, it 
will be none the less eloquent with God. There is a mighty power in a child s 
cry to prevail with a parent s heart. " Give ear unto my prayer." Some repetitions 
are not vain. The reduplication here used is neither superstition nor tautology, 
but is like the repeated blow of a hammer hitting the same nail on the head to fix 
it the more effectually, or the continued knocking of a beggar at the gate who 
cannot be denied an alms. " That goeth not out of feigned lips." Sincerity is a 
sine qua non in prayer. Lips of deceit are detestable to man and much more to 
God. In intercourse so hallowed as that of prayer, hypocrisy even in the remotest 
degree is as fatal as it is foolish. Hypocritical piety is double iniquity. He who 
would feign and flatter had better try his craft with a fool like himself, for to deceive 
the all-seeing One is as impossible as to take the moon in a net, or to lead the sun 
into a snare. He who would deceive God is himself already most grossly deceived. 
Our sincerity in prayer has no merit in it, any more than the earnestness of a mendi 
cant in the street ; but at the same time the Lord has regard to it, through Jesus, 
and will not long refuse his ear to an honest and fervent petitioner. 

2. " Let my sentence come forth from thy presence." The Psalmist has now grown 
bold by the strengthening influence of prayer, and he now entreats the Judge of 
all the earth to give sentence upon his case. He had been libelled, basely and 
maliciously libelled ; and having brought his action before the highest court, he, 
like an innocent man, has no desire to escape the enquiry, but even invites and sues 
for judgment. He does not ask for secrecy, but would have the result come forth 
to the world. He would have sentence pronounced and executed forthwith. In 
some matters we may venture to be as bold as this ; but except we can plead some 
thing better than our own supposed innocence, it were terrible presumption thus to 
challenge the judgment of a sin-hating God. With Jesus as our complete and 
all-glorious righteousness we need not fear, though the day of judgment should 
commence at once, and hell open her mouth at our feet, but might joyfully prove 
the truth of our hymn writer s holy boast 

" Bold shall I stand in that great day ; 
For who ought to my charge shall lay ? 
While, through thy blood, absolved I am 
From sin s tremendous curse and shame." 

" Let thine eyes behold the things that are equal." Believers do not desire any 
other judge than God, or to be excused from judgment, or even to be judged on 
principles of partiality. No ; our hope does not lie in the prospect of favouritism 
from God, and the consequent suspension of his law ; we expect to be judged on 
the same principles as other men, and through the blood and righteousness of our 
Redeemer we shall pass the ordeal unscathed. The Lord will weigh us in the scales 
of justice fairly and justly ; he will not use false weights to permit us to escape, 
but with the sternest equity those balances will be used upon us as well as upon 
others ; and with our blessed Lord Jesus as our all in all we tremble not, for we 
shall not be found wanting. In David s case, he felt his cause to be so right that 
he simply desired the Divine eyes to rest upon the matter, and he was confident 
that equity would give him all that he needed. 

3. " Thou hast proved mine heart." Like Peter, David uses the argument, 
Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee." It is a most assuring 
thing to be able to appeal at once to the Lord, and call upon our Judge to be a 
witness for our defence. " Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we 
confidence towards God." " Thou hast visited me in the night." As if he had 
said, " Lord, thou hast entered my house at all hours ; and thou hast seen me 
when no one else was nigh ; thou hast come upon me unawares and marked my 
unrestrained actions, and thou knowest whether or no I am guilty of the crimes 
laid at my door." Happy man who can thus remember the omniscient eye, and 
the omnipresent visitor, and find comfort in the remembrance. We hope we have 
had our midnight visits from our Lord, and truly they are sweet ; so sweet that 
the recollection of them sets us longing for more of such condescending communings. 
Lord, if, indeed, we had been hypocrites, should we have had such fellowship, or 
feel such hungerings after a renewal of it ? " Thou hast tried me, and shalt find 
nothing." Surely the Psalmist means nothing hypocritical or wicked in the sense 
in which his slanderers accused him ; for if the Lord should put the best of his 
people into the crucible, the dross would be a fearful sight, and would make penitence 


open her sluices wide. Assayers very soon detect the presence of alloy, and when 
the chief of all assayers shall, at the last, say of us that he has found nothing, 
it will be a glorious hour indeed " They are without fault before the throne of 
God." Even here, as viewed in our covenant Head, the Lord sees no sin in Jacob, 
nor perverseness in Israel ; even the all-detecting glance of Omniscience can see 
no flaw where the great Substitute covers all with beauty and perfection. " / am 
purposed that my mouth shall not transgress." Oh those sad lips of ours ! we had 
need purpose to purpose if we would keep them from exceeding their bounds. The 
number of diseases of the tongue is as many as the diseases of all the rest of the man 
put together, and they are more inveterate. Hands and feet one may bind, but 
who can fetter the lips ? iron bands may hold a madman, but what chains can 
restrain the tongue ? It needs more than a purpose to keep this nimble offender 
within its proper range. Lion-taming and serpent-charming are not to be mentioned 
in the same day as tongue-taming, for the tongue can no man tame. Those who 
have to smart from the falsehoods of others should be the more jealous over them 
selves ; perhaps this led the Psalmist to register this holy resolution ; and, moreover, 
he intended thereby to aver that if he had said too much in his own defence, it was 
not intentional, for he desired in all respects to tune his lips to the sweet and simple 
music of truth. Nothwithstanding all this David was slandered, as if to show us 
that the purest innocence will be bemired by malice. There is no sunshine without 
a shadow, no ripe fruit unpecked by the birds. 

4. " Concerning the works of men." While we are in the midst of men we shall 
have their works thrust under our notice, and we shall be compelled to keep a corner 
in our diary headed " concerning the works of men." To be quite clear from the 
dead works of carnal humanity is the devout desire of souls who are quickened by 
the Holy Spirit. " By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer." 
He had kept the highway of Scripture, and not chosen the bye-paths of malice. 
We should soon imitate the example of the worst of men if the grace of God did not 
use the Word of God as the great preservative from evil. The paths of the destroyer 
have often tempted us ; we have been prompted to become destroyers too, when 
we have been sorely provoked, and resentment has grown warm ; but we have 
remembered the example of our Lord, who would not call fire from heaven upon his 
enemies, but meekly prayed, " Father, forgive them." All the ways of sin are the 
paths of Satan, the Apollyon or Abaddon, both of which words signify the destroyer. 
Foolish indeed are those who give their hearts to the old murderer, because for the 
time he panders to their evil desires. That heavenly Book which lies neglected on 
many a shelf is the only guide for those who would avoid the enticing and entangling 
mazes of sin ; and it is the best means of preserving the youthful pilgrim from ever 
treading those dangerous ways. We must follow the one or the other ; the Book 
of Life, or the way of death ; the word of the Holy Spirit, or the suggestion of the 
Evil Spirit. David could urge as the proof of his sincerity that he had no part 
or lot with the ungodly in their ruinous ways. How can we venture to plead our 
cause with God, unless we also can wash our hands clean of all connection with 
the enemies of the Great King ? 

5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. 

6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, God : incline thine 
ear unto me, and hear my speech. 

5. Under trial it is not easy to behave ourselves aright ; a candle is not easily 
kept alight when many envious mouths are puffing at it. In evil times prayer is 
peculiarly needful, and wise men resort to it at once. Plato said to one of his 
disciples, " When men speak ill of thee, live so that no one will believe them ; " 
good enough advice, but he did not tell us how to carry it out. We have a precept 
here incorporated in an example ; if we would be preserved, we must cry to the 
Preserver, and enlist divine support upon our side. " Hold up my goings " as a 
careful driver holds up his horse when going down hill. We have all sorts of paces, 
both fast and slow, and the road is never long of one sort, but with God to hold up 
our goings, nothing in the pace or in the road can cast down. He who has been 
down once and cut his knees sadly, even to the bone, had need redouble his zeal 
when using this prayer ; and all of us, since we are so weak on our legs through 
Adam s fall, had need use it every hour of the day. If a perfect father fell, how 
shall an imperfect son dare to boast ? " In thy paths." Forsaking Satan s paths, 


he prayed to be upheld in God s paths. We cannot keep from evil without keeping 
to good. If the bushel be not full of wheat, it may soon be once more full of chaff. 
In all the appointed ordinances and duties of our most holy faith, may the Lord 
enable us to run through his upholding grace 1 " That my footsteps slip not." What t 
slip in God s ways ? Yes, the road is good, but our feet are evil, and therefore 
slip, even on the King s highway. Who wonders if carnal men slide and fall in 
ways of their own choosing, which, like the vale of Siddim, are full of deadly slime- 
pits ? One may trip over an ordinance as well as over a temptation. Jesus Christ 
himself is a stumbling-block to some, and the doctrines of grace have been the 
occasion of offence to many. Grace alone can hold up our goings in the paths of 

6. " / have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, God." Thou hast always 
heard me, O my Lord, and therefore I have the utmost confidence in again 
approaching thine altar. Experience is a blessed teacher. He who has tried the 
faithfulness of God in hours of need, has great boldness in laying his case before 
the throne. The well of Bethlehem, from which we drew such cooling draughts 
in years gone by, our souls long for still ; nor will we leave it for the broken cisterns 
of earth. " Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech." Stoop out of heaven 
and put thine ear to my mouth ; give me thine ear all to myself, as men do when 
they lean over to catch every word from their friend. The Psalmist here comes 
back to his first prayer, and thus sets us an example of pressing our suit again and 
again, until we have a full assurance that we have succeeded. 

7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right 
hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. 

8 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. 

9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass 
me about. 

10 They are inclosed in their own fat : with their mouth they speak proudly. 

11 They have now compassed us in our steps : they have set their eyes 
bowing down to the earth ; 

12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion 
lurking in secret places. 

7. " Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness." Marvellous in its antiquity, its 
distinguishing character, its faithfulness, its immutability, and above all, marvellous 
in the wonders which it works. That marvellous grace which has redeemed us 
with the precious blood of God s only begotten, is here invoked to come to the rescue. 
That grace is sometimes hidden ; the text says, " Shew it." Present enjoyments 
of divine love are matchless cordials to support fainting hearts. Believer, what a 
prayer is this ! Consider it well. O Lord, shew thy marvellous lovingkindness ; 
shew it to my intellect, and remove my ignorance ; shew it to my heart, and revive 
my gratitude ; shew it to my faith, and renew my confidence ; shew it to my 
experience, and deliver me from all my fears. The original word here used is the 
same which in Psalm iv. 3 is rendered set apart, and it has the force of, Distinguish 
thy mercies, set them out, and set apart the choicest to be bestowed upon me in 
this hour of my severest affliction. " thou that savest by thy right hand them which 
put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them." The title here given to 
our gracious God is eminently consolatory. He is the God of salvation ; it is his 
present and perpetual habit to save believers ; he puts forth his best and most 
glorious strength, using his right hand of wisdom and might, to save all those, of 
whatsoever rank or class, who trust themselves with him. Happy faith thus to 
secure the omnipotent protection of heaven ! Blessed God, to be thus gracious 
to unworthy mortals, when they have but grace to rely upon thee ! The right 
hand of God is interposed between the saints and all harm ; God is never at a loss 
for means ; his own bare hand is enough. He works without tools as well as with 

8. " Keep me as the apple of the eye." No part of the body more precious, more 
tender, and more carefully guarded than the eye ; and of the eye, no portion more 
peculiarly to be protected than the central apple, the pupil, or, as the Hebrew 
calls it, " the daughter of the eye." The all- wise Creator has placed the eye in a 
well-protected position ; it stands surrounded by projecting bones like Jerusalem 


encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great Author has surrounded it with many 
tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the 
eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes ; and, in addition to this, he has given to 
every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger, that 
no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight. Thus, 
Lord, keep thou me, for I trust I am one with Jesus, and so a member of his mystical 
body. " Hide me under the shadow of thy wings." Even as the parent bird com 
pletely shields her brood from evil, and meanwhile cherishes them with the warmth 
of her own heart, by covering them with her wings, so do thou with me, most 
condescending God, for I am thine offspring, and thou hast a parent s love 
in perfection. This last clause is in the Hebrew in the future tense, as if to show 
that what the writer had asked for but a moment before he was now sure would 
be granted to him. Confident expectation should keep pace with earnest 

9. " From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me 
about." The foes from whom David sought to be rescued were wicked men. It is 
hopeful for us when our enemies are God s enemies. They were deadly enemies, 
whom nothing but his death would satisfy. The foes of a believer s soul are mortal 
foes most emphatically, for they who war against our faith aim at the very life 
of our life. Deadly sins are deadly enemies, and what sin is there which hath not 
death in its bowels ? These foes oppressed David, they laid his spirit waste, as 
invading armies ravage a country, or as wild beasts desolate a land. He likens 
himself to a besieged city, and complains that his foes compass him about. It may 
well quicken our business upward, when all around us, every road, is blockaded 
by deadly foes. This is our daily position, for all around us dangers and sins are 
lurking. O God, do thou protect us from them all. 

10. " They are inclosed in their own fat." Luxury and gluttony beget vain 
glorious fatness of heart, which shuts up its gates against all compassionate emotions 
and reasonable judgments. The old proverb says that full bellies make empty 
skulls, and it is yet more true that they frequently make empty hearts. The rankest 
weeds grow out of the fattest soil. Riches and self-indulgence are the fuel upon 
which some sins feed their flames. Pride and fulness of bread were Sodom s twin 
sins. (Ezek. xvi. 49.) Fed hawks forget their masters ; and the moon at its fullest 
is furthest from the sun. Eglon was a notable instance that a well-fed corporation 
is no security to life, when a sharp message conies from God, addressed to the inward 
vitals of the body. " With their mouth they speak proudly." He who adores himself 
will have no heart to adore the Lord. Full of selfish pleasure within his heart, the 
wicked man fills his mouth with boastful and arrogant expressions. Prosperity 
and vanity often lodge together. Woe to the fed ox when it bellows at its owner, 
the poleaxe is not far off. 

11. " They have now compassed us in our steps." The fury of the ungodly is 
aimed not at one believer alone, but at all the band ; they have compassed us. 
All the race of the Jews were but a morsel for Haman s hungry revenge, and all 
because of one Mordecai. The prince of darkness hates all the saints for their 
Master s sake. The Lord Jesus is one of the us, and herein is our hope. He is the 
Breaker, and will clear a way for us through the hosts which environ us. The